§ Mr. Wareing
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what actions he is planning to ensure that some hospitals do not close a proportion of their beds during the 668W winter months because of difficulties in recruiting nursing staff and as a result of the possible overflow of acute medical cases during those months.
§ Mr. Hayhoe
Although there are from time to time nursing recruitment difficulties in particular locations or in specific specialisms, overall the numbers of nursing and midwifery staff continue to increase—by a further 3,500 to 401,000 whole-time equivalents between September 1984 and September 1985. The recent increase in the pay of nursing staff should also help to aid recruitment. Responsibility for recruiting staff to meet local needs and priorities and for planning to deal with peaks in workload must rest with individual health authorities. Only they have the detailed local knowledge necessary to make these judgements; their performance is, of course, monitored and reviewed through the accountability review process.