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Health Insight August 2001: Thank you, nurse


Nearly 3,000 nurses and midwives have returned, or have been training to return, to the NHS since April 2001. The nurse recruitment campaign, involving TV, radio and press advertisements, ran from February to March this year. The government says it is now on target to meet its commitment to have an extra 20,000 nurses working in the NHS by 2005. Health Secretary Alan Milburn said, ‘…we have got a long way to go but we are clearly turning the corner on nurse and midwife recruitment.’ Royal College of Nursing General Secretary Beverly Malone said she was delighted by the news but warned that efforts must be made to persuade those currently working in the NHS not to quit. ‘They are coming in the front door, but we have got to make sure they don’t fall out the back door,’ she said. ‘We need to pay nurses adequately, and reward them and value them.’

National Cancer Director, Professor Mike Richards, has set out the government’s plans to spend an extra £2m to educate and support district and community nurses in providing care for cancer patients at home. The funding, a commitment set out in the NHS Cancer Plan published last September, will be divided between all thirty-four cancer networks in England over the next three years. The money will be used to support and educate around 10,000 district and community nurses in the NHS with the necessary skills to deliver palliative care for patients who choose to die at home. Full details of the projects can be found at www.doh.gov.uk/cancer.

From October this year the NHS will be providing free nursing care in nursing homes for the first time. The NHS Plan promises free nursing care for all, regardless of the setting it is delivered in. Health minister Jacqui Smith said, ‘This new system will benefit around 35,000 people who are currently paying for their nursing care from their own funds. With the implementation of free nursing care, these individuals could stand to save up to £5,000 per year.’ The consultation material has been published on the internet at www.doh.gov.uk/freenursingcare.

Sources: BBC Online, Press releases (DoH)

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