To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what conveniently available figures he has for the shortage of paediatric intensive care nurses; and if he will make a statement.
[holding answer 18 January 1988]: Nationally, the total number of nursing and midwifery staff, including qualified and unqualified staff, in special care baby units and paediatric intensive care has increased by some 157 per cent. between September 1981 and September 1986; from 1,260 to 3,220 in whole-time equivalent terms. Work is in hand to establish a post-basic paediatric intensive care nursing course in Birmingham. It is expected to commence later this year and will be the first of its kind outside London.The new grading structure for nurses to be introduced later this year will offer better pay and career prospects in clinical nursing for those who take on heavier responsibilities or who specialise in areas such as paediatric intensive care. It is expected that this will help to improve recruitment and retention.Recruitment and post-basic nurse training are the responsibility of health authorities. Information on shortages is not collected centrally on a routine basis. However, the results of a recent survey by the regional health authorities, undertaken for the nurses' pay review body, are expected shortly.