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Student Nurses

Volume 127: debated on Friday 19 February 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what percentage of the annual cohort of 18-year-olds has been recruited as student nurses in each of the past 10 years; and if he is satisfied that sufficient recruits of suitable calibre will be recruited in future years, in the light of the fall in the birth rate and proposals in Project 2000;(2) if he will give the total number of student nurses employed in the National Health Service in each year since 1958, together with the annual rate of wastage caused as a result of nurses failing to complete their training; and if he will make a statement on measures taken to reduce this wastage.

Numbers entering basic nurse training and estimated population aged 18: 1978 to 1987—England
YearNumber entering basic nurse trainingEstimated population aged 18 (thousands)
TotalRegisteredEnrolledTotalMaleFemalePercentage of population entering training


1. Figures relate to year ended 31 March. Figures prior to 1985 have been estimated as 95 per cent. of England and Wales total.

2. Office of Population Censuses and Surveys mid-year population estimates.

n/a= Not yet available.

The basic academic entry qualification for registered nurse training is five O-levels or better; the number of female school leavers available for employment with this level of academic attainment will, it is estimated, decline from 36,500 in 1987 to 29,800 in 1994. This is one of the factors to be taken into account in the Government's response to the Project 2000 proposals for the reform of nurse education. We hope to be in a position to make a statement on Project 2000 by Easter.

On wastage, there has been a reduction in the number of nurse learners discontinuing training as a proportion of the average number in training from nearly 9 per cent. in the year ended 31 March 1980 to 6.3 per cent. in the year ended 31 March 1987. The effect on wastage is another factor we will need to consider in our response to Project 2000.