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Volume 29: debated on Thursday 28 October 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will take steps to improve the clinical career prospects of nurses.

I am pleased to announce that the Government are prepared to provide £150,000 over the next three years to support the evaluation of three experimental schemes to improve and develop ways in which the most able and experienced nurses can be encouraged to achieve their maximum potential whilst still remaining in clinical practice. There was unanimous agreement on the need for schemes of this kind at a seminar for senior representatives of the nursing profession organised by our Department's chief nursing officer at Harrogate in October 1981.The aim is to develop a programme to prepare newly qualified entrants to the profession for their personal responsibility for maintaining and improving standards of nursing care and to establish them on a planned professional career path. We propose to evaluate the experimental schemes in terms of their cost and effectiveness in achieving this aim.I hope that these experimental programmes will be the first step in improvements in the clinical career development of nurses which will help to retain qualified nurses, improve morale in the profession and so improve patient care.