HC Deb 07 April 1987 vol 114 cc187-9W

19. Mr. Geraint Howells asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received about nurses leaving National Health Service employment in order to begin private sector nursing employment.

Mr. Newton

We have not received any on this specific issue, and nurses are free to work where they choose. However, in the light of the United Kingdom Central Council's project 2000 proposals, we will be discussing with representatives of the private health care sector the ways in which its contribution to nurse training can be expanded.

20. Sir Russell Johnston

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the most recent figure, or estimate, he has for the number of agency nurses working in National Health Service hospitals.

Mr. Newton

The number of agency nursing and midwifery staff employed in England at September 1985 was 4,120 in wholetime equivalent terms; about 1.0 per cent. of the total nursing and midwifery staff at that date.

24. Mr. Silvester

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many nurses are currently employed in the north-west region; and how many were employed in 1979.

Mr. Newton

The provisional figure from the latest census of nurses and midwives, including agency nurses, is 37,800 whole time equivalents. The corresponding figure for 1979 was 32,200. That is an increase of 5,600 or 17.7 per cent. It compares with an increase of 12.2 per cent. over the same period for all health authorities in England.[These figures are taken from the DHSS Annual census of NHS non-medical manpower.]

27. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps he is taking to stem the flow of qualified nurses now leaving the National Health Service.

Mr. Newton

Information about nurses leaving the National Health Service is not collected centrally but the latest available information shows that the number of qualified nursing and midwifery staff in the National Health Service in England continues to increase: by a further 2.8 per cent. between September 1984 and September 1985. We do however recognise that the situation will vary between location and specialty, and a number of initiatives aimed at improving recruitment and retention have been taken.

The position in London is currently the subject of a review commissioned by the National Health Service Management Board. The Department is also currently undertaking a special enquiry into nurse recruitment and retention problems across the country with the aim of identifying management action which may be required to overcome recruitment difficulties. The management and staff sides of the Nursing and Midwifery Staff negotiating council are reviewing nursing clinical grading structure and are aiming to develop a structure which is appropriate to current and future needs. A joint DHSS/NHS group is examining equal opportunities, with specific reference to management of the career break. Additionally health authorities have been asked to consider increasing male recruitment, making greater efforts to recruit mature entrants, organise "Back to Nursing" campaigns, establish nurse banks and give more opportunities for flexible working arrangements, part-time working and job sharing.

Finally, in addition to consultation on the "Project 2000" proposals on future nurse education and training published by the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting, the Department has set up a major feasibility study into the extended use of the youth training scheme in the National Health Service. A feature of this study, which is purely exploratory, is to look at the way such training might facilitate entry to professional nurse training and thus help to alleviate recruitment difficulties.

49. Mr. Stevens

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how much nurses' pay has increased in real terms since the pay review body was set up.

Mr. Newton

I refer my hon. Friend to point (c) of my reply to him today.

58. Mr. Weetch

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the current position with regard to nurses leaving the profession; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton

I regret that information about nurses leaving the profession is not collected centrally. However, we are aware of some work undertaken by the Institute of Manpower Studies which suggests that about 10 per cent. of qualified nurses and midwives leave the National Health Service each year. On that basis — that is including retirements, and including those not lost to the profession but going to undertake further post-basic training or other nursing employment—some 23,000 in wholetime equivalent terms left the National Health Service in England in the last year. At the same time, however, some 7,000 returned to nursing after a break, in addition to those newly qualified nurses who joined the National Health Service.

Mr. Redmond

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many nurses have been employed within the National Health Service in each year since 1979.

Mr. Newton

I refer the hon. Member to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Amess) on 20 March at column661.