NHS nurses have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic. We are committed to increasing the number of nurses in the NHS by 50,000 over this Parliament through improving retention and increasing domestic supply and international recruitment, and we are on track to do that. The number of nurses in the NHS is at an all-time high of 301,491 full-time equivalent nurses employed in NHS trusts and CCGs.
We all know how hard our NHS nurses have had to work in the past year, many without a break and, for those with international origins, without seeing their families either. As public focus inevitably turns towards the NHS backlog, can Ministers assure me that they will work with NHS England to protect staff holidays and enable and encourage NHS staff to get the rest and recuperation they need?
I completely agree with my hon. Friend that staff must be allowed and supported to recover from the pandemic. We have advised NHS Employers to make sure that staff can carry over annual leave. We are determined that the pace of NHS recovery must also allow staff the rest and recuperation they need.