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Volume 114: debated on Wednesday 8 April 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the problems of recruitment, training, and wastage of nursing staff in the National Health Service in Scotland.

Since this Government came into office the whole-time equivalent number of qualified nurses has risen by 7,494. This represents an increase of nearly 28 per cent. over the 1979 total of 26,930, although part of the increase was necessitated by the reduction in working hours in 1980 from 40 to 37ยท5 per week.In this same period student nurse numbers have increased by 16 per cent. the increase being about 22 per cent. for general nursing and 30 per cent. for mental handicap. For mental health and maternity the number remained about the same.The number training to become enrolled nurses has fallen by about 62 per cent. between 1979 and 1985.Information on wastage is not readily available centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. The Scottish Home and Health Department has commissioned a research study of career pathways for cohorts of nurses trained in Scotland over the past 30 years. This should be completed by the end of this year and will provide much useful information on career progression, wastage, return to work and future intentions.