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Cancer Care

Volume 408: debated on Friday 11 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what direction his Department is giving to the Workforce Development Confederation to integrate a cancer module within the standard nursing training programme. [123257]

It is not appropriate for the Department to provide direction on the content of nurse training. The regulatory Council for Nursing and Midwifery sets the standard and outline requirements for pre registration nurse education. It does this in collaboration with higher education, employers and the nursing profession. Students have opportunities to undertake supervised practice in caring for cancer patients. Qualified nurses can undertake more specialised programmes, such as cancer nursing, following registration.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans his Department has to extend nurse prescribing powers to include the prescription of opiates for cancer and palliative care. [123258]

The Department's proposals for extending independent nurse prescribing, including some opiates for use in palliative care, are set out in a consultation paper, issued jointly by the Department of Health and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on 30 April 2003. Copies are available on the MHRA's website: www.mhra.gov.uk and are available in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many NHS cancer nurses have (a) retired, (b) left the NHS and (c) been recruited to the NHS in each of the last five years; [123250](2) how many

(a) cancer nurses in permanent posts and (b) agency cancer nurses are employed by the NHS. [123252]

Data on the number of permanent or agency cancer specific nurses are not collected centrally nor is information on the number of leavers or retirees from the national health service.The Department of Health Workforce Census shows that, between 1997 and September 2002, there was a net increase in nurses working in the NHS of nearly 50,000. There are now 367,520 nurses employed in the NHS. This increase has enabled the recruitment of additional cancer-site specific nurse specialists, chemotherapy nurses, district nurses, palliative care nurse specialists and additional nurses on wards caring for cancer patients.