HC Deb 10 April 2002 vol 383 cc487-8W
Tim Loughton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many new NHS nurses since 1999 have been recruited from overseas; and what percentage of the total new recruitment intake they represent. [47525]

Mr. Hutton

The Department's workforce censuses do not record the nationality of the nurses working in the national health service. It is not therefore possible to calculate the number of nurses recruited from overseas or the percentage of the new recruitment intake that they represent.

The new nurses working in the national health service are made up of newly qualified staff, overseas recruits and nurses returning to work in the national health service.

In order to practise as a nurse, overseas applicants must register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), formerly the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing Midwifery and Health Visiting. Overseas nurses registered with the NMC do not necessarily work in the national health service The number of entrants to the register in the last three years are shown in the table.

Overseas trained nurses and midwives registering with the UKCC
1998–99 1999–2000 2000–01
Overseas nurses registered with the UKCC 3,621 5,945 8,403

Mr. Burns

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent measures have been taken and what safeguards exist to ensure the competence of locum doctors. [46741]

Mr. Hutton

We introduced a new Code of Practice for the employment of locum doctors in 1997. This remains the current guidance and requires NHS employers who use locums to conduct vigorous checks and to ensure that they are properly supervised. The Code also requires locum agencies to ensure that the doctors they supply are of the appropriate quality and have the necessary credentials and qualifications.

We are determined, however, to improve on these arrangements. We are now developing proposals to extend the existing appraisal arrangements for NHS consultants and principal GPs to locum doctors. This will ensure that these doctors have their professional development needs identified by NHS appraisers and get the same support as substantive doctors to keep their practice up-to-date. We are also working with the General Medical Council on proposals to revalidate doctors regularly. These arrangements will apply to locums who will he required to produce the same standards of evidence about their practice as all other doctors. We will then introduce a new Code of Practice through which we see NHS Professionals adopting a central role in supporting and quality assuring locums.

In primary care, non-principal Gps are now required to register on a Primary Care Trust/Health Authority supplementary list before they can work as a deputy or as an assistant in general medical services.

In order to be registered, non-principals need to satisfy certain criteria that include checks on their qualifications and criminal record. The criteria mirror that required for principal GPs applying to join a medical list and will be used by health authorities to determine the suitability of a practitioner applying to work in their area.