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Nurses (Gateshead, East and Washington, West)

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 20 June 2006

11. How many nurses were employed in the Gateshead, East and Washington, West constituency in 1997 and at the most recent date for which figures are available. (78470)

In 1997, there were 1,131 nurses employed in the NHS organisations in the Gateshead, East and Washington, West area. The current figure is 1,462. That is an increase of 29 per cent.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. That is excellent news. I am sure that she will be aware that I recently tabled a written question about the number of nurses nationally in various periods since 1979. I was astonished by the answer, which proved categorically that in nine years we have done much more than the Tories did in 18 years to increase the number of qualified nurses in my constituency and nationally. Does she accept that when people ask where the money goes, we should shout from the rooftops that it goes on increasing staff numbers and pay, which is a major part of recruiting? Does she also—

As it happens, I could not agree more with my hon. Friend, particularly about shouting from the rooftops about some of the changes that have been made and the improvements in the pay and number of nurses. It is important to add one other thing: we have also managed to reform the way in which nurses work, giving them extra responsibilities and making sure that there are new posts, such as nurse consultant posts. All that means that—when she talks about recruitment and retention—under a Labour Government, we have made it easier not only to go into nursing, but to stay in nursing. We can all be proud of that.