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Nurse Recruitment

Volume 716: debated on Tuesday 14 June 2022

This Government committed to growing the NHS workforce, including our pledge of 50,000 more nurses by 2024, and we are delivering on that, as we are delivering across Government, with almost 31,000 more nurses so far as of March 2022—the latest data point we have.

I commend the Government on their target to train 50,000 new nurses. I know first-hand how hard the nursing staff work in the NHS as I worked as a mental health support worker for almost 30 years. With that in mind, I welcome the new school of nursing to be built at the Cramlington A&E Hospital. Will my hon. Friend do me the honour of visiting Cramlington to see for himself the construction of this amazing new facility?

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his work supporting the NHS and healthcare in this country both prior to and subsequent to his election to this House. I would be delighted to visit Cramlington with him—indeed, on the same visit perhaps I could visit his local health facilities to see modular construction in action. I should also say that his ever-efficient office has already invited me.

More nurses across the country, and particularly in Harrow, would make a real difference in helping those who suffer from diabetes. Given that this is Diabetes Week and that diabetes has a disproportionate impact on those from a south Asian background—particularly, for example, among my Gujarati constituents—when will the Minister put extra resources into tackling this terrible health condition?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his important question. As he highlights, we are investing more in more nurses, but there is also a large piece of work to do on health education and improving access to those services for people with diabetes. I urge him to look forward with eager anticipation to the health disparities White Paper.

Mr Speaker, you will be aware that I am proud to support the “no time to wait” cross-party campaign to ensure that we have a mental health nurse in every GP surgery across the country. I am delighted to see the hon. Member for York Central (Rachael Maskell), who supports the campaign, in her place.

I was delighted to read that the Secretary of State has said that we will recruit 2,000 mental health nurses into GP practices. Can I have more detail on how that will work? Can we look at Norfolk, which is using primary care networks, and third sector organisations such as Mind to help with that recruitment?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for drawing attention to this important issue as well as for highlighting what is going on in Norfolk and the opportunities to learn from that. The Government have put record funding into mental health, and I understand that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is due to meet him and supporters of the campaign soon.

Working a shift in A&E just two days ago, I could not have felt prouder of the teams of nurses who form the foundation of our NHS. As the Minister is so gushing about the Government’s track record, will he explain why specialist food banks are being opened up in hospitals? Will he explain why, in a report by the Royal College of Nursing, 83% said that staffing levels on their last shift were not sufficient to meet patients’ needs safely and effectively? These lifesavers need a Government who are on their side. Only Labour will deliver for the NHS workforce and ensure that nurses and patients get what they rightly deserve.

I think that I detected the hint of a question in there. On a serious point, I pay tribute to the hon. Lady, as I often do on such occasions, notwithstanding the challenges that she throws at us, for the work that she does in the NHS and the work that she did before she was elected to the House. Through her, I also pay tribute to NHS workers up and down the country for their work.

The Government have put in place record support for our NHS, including nurses, which is about supporting those already on the frontline in the profession—that is absolutely right—and about growing that workforce to ensure that the work that needs to be done is spread among more people. That is exactly what we have done. We have record numbers in our NHS workforce, and we are well on target to meet our manifesto commitment on more nurses.