§ Sandra Gidley
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on progress to increase staff retention among midwives. 
§ Mr. Hutton
[holding answer 22 May 2002]: The Department and the Royal College of Midwives are working closely to improve recruitment and retention by promoting flexible working, childcare, diversity and tackling harassment.
Pay for midwives has increased by at least 26 per cent. Since 1997 and a new grading agreement has been introduced.
The number of midwives (headcount) increased by 510 between September 2000 and September 2001. 2,000 more midwives are planned by 2006.
Workforce development confederations are modelling the future maternity work force taking into account programmes such as Birthrate Plus.
§ Tim Loughton
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the likely main incentives for attracting former midwives back into the profession. 
§ Mr. Hutton
[holding answer 24 May 2002]: The Return Journeys booklet is the result of an assessment of returners' needs and sets out the incentives for people to return to a career in midwifery, or other health care careers in the national health service. I will arrange for a copy to be placed in the Library.
The Improving Working Lives initiative is making return to the NHS more attractive.
We are working with the Royal College of Midwives, local supervisory authorities for midwifery, heads of midwifery and workforce development confederations to improve the return journey for midwives.