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Volume 403: debated on Tuesday 8 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many student nurses entered the NHS in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [107685]

[holding answer 7 April 2003]: Information on the number of national health service funded pre-registration nursing and midwifery training places in each of the last ten years is shown in the table.

Nursing and midwifery
Between 1992 and 2001, the number of nursing and midwifery training places has increased by 5,430 or 33 per cent.The Government are committed to increasing the numbers of training places for nurses and midwives. The NHS Plan stated that, by 2004, there would be an extra 5,500 nurses and midwives being trained each year. Since the 1999 baseline, there has been an increase of 3,063 and latest figures suggest a further increase of around 1,540 in the current financial year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will review the qualifications requirements for people becoming nurses in the NHS; and if he will make a statement. [107686]

[holding answer 7 April 2003] : The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is the independent statutory body, which sets the standards of conduct and competence required to register and work as a nurse in the United Kingdom, ensuring fitness to practise and public protection. These standards are reviewed from time to time as necessary by the NMC.At present, the NMC also sets specific educational entry requirements for pre-registration nursing and midwifery programmes leading to registration. However, following consultation the NMC will in future set only broad, general entry requirements. These have yet to be determined.The new rules will require applicants to meet the general entry requirements defined by the NMC and the specific educational entry requirements of the higher education institution (HEI). The NMC acknowledges that HEIs accept a range of academic and vocational qualifications, with their own processes for assessing non-standard entrants.