HC Deb 09 November 1982 vol 31 cc132-3W
Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish a table showing the number of qualified nurses unemployed in each of the last three years showing how many were women and how many men; and if he will take steps to remedy the situation.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

At September 1982 the number of unemployed people registered at employment offices in the United Kingdom for employment as registered nurses, enrolled nurses or State certified midwives was:

September 1980 September 1981 September 1982
Male 446 597 745
Female 4,658 6,082 8,086
Total 5,104 6,679 8,831

The primary responsibility for recruitment of nursing staff must rest with health authorities. Only they can decide on the appropriate levels of staffing in the light of local needs and priorities and the resources which can be allocated to meeting those needs.

A good proportion of recorded nurse unemployment, however, is among people whose availability for employment is restricted. Because of family ties, many nurses are only able to work restricted hours and some may not be able to work outside the area in which they reside. Moreover, nurses that are available may not be suitable for the particular vacancy.

The nurse staffing picture will obviously vary between localities and specialties but the latest staffing figures centrally available show that the number of nursing and midwifery staff employed in the NHS in England continues to increase. Between September 1979 and September 1981, in whole-time equivalent terms, the increase was about 34,000. Part of the increase was, of course, to allow a shortening of the nurses working week from 40 hours to 37½ hours.