§ 3. Mr. Christopher Gill (Ludlow)
How many nurses previously employed at Kidderminster district general hospital have accepted alternative employment within the NHS in the last two years. 
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Ms Gisela Stuart)
I add my congratulations, Mr. Speaker.
Neither the Department of Health nor the national health service collects firm details of the future employment intentions of staff. However, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS trust reports that from 1 October 1998 to 30 September 2000 its records indicate that 41 qualified nurses previously employed at Kidderminster general hospital accepted alternative employment in the NHS in Worcestershire.
§ Mr. Gill
I must say that I am rather disappointed by that reply. I am sure that the Minister will be as concerned 112 as I was to learn that the chairman of Worcester Acute Hospitals NHS trust has said, "We must attract more nurses and retain them."
When new Labour was in opposition, it lost no opportunity to criticise the Conservative Government in terms of the national health service. Now, however, the Prime Minister says that the Government failed to estimate accurately the scale of the problems of the NHS. That is the reason why there are not enough doctors, nurses and dentists—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman will not get away with making a speech. He had an opportunity to put a question, and that is the end of it. Does the Minister wish to reply?
§ Ms Stuart
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. Gill) will be delighted to learn that Kidderminster hospital has a full complement of nursing staff. In addition, unlike the previous Government, who cut nursing training places consistently—between 1992 and 1994, the number went down to some 13,000—we have not just increased nursing training places but we have brought back some 5,000 nurses. Furthermore, unlike the Tory Front-Bench health team, we regard women, who form a large part of the nurses who return, as being 100 per cent. members of the work force, not as being worth only 80 per cent.