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Nurses: Students

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many students (a) applied for and (b) enrolled in returning to (i) nursing and (ii) midwifery courses in each of the last five years; (202841)

(2) what guidelines exist for the funding of returning to (a) nursing and (b) midwifery courses;

(3) how much was spent on the promotion of returning to (a) nursing and (b) midwifery courses in each of the last five years.

In the spring of 2004 and 2005, the Department ran a generic NHS careers campaign. Therefore, costs on promoting return to practice for nurses and midwives separately are not available.

Return to practice is managed locally. The initiative was funded centrally between February 1999 and March 2004. Over 18,500 former nurses and midwives had returned to work in the national health service as a result of the initiative during this period.

From 1 April 2004, responsibility for return to practice programmes was devolved to local NHS organisations, and information is not collected centrally. There are no specific guidelines on funding return to practice courses. NHS organisations fund courses from their overall training budgets to meet local workforce needs. Guidance about return to practice for employers is available on NHS Employers website at

On 25 February 2008, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State outlined plans to help former midwives to return to work in the NHS after a break in service. The incentives are worth up to £3,000, including free refresher training, and financial support during training for child care and travel expenses. The initiative will be launched jointly with the Royal College of Midwives in June.