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NHS Workforce and Service Development

Part of Opposition Day — [18th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 12:44 pm on 11th October 2006.

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Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Shadow Secretary of State for Health 12:44 pm, 11th October 2006

No; I am carrying on for a bit.

I do hope that the Secretary of State will also make it clear that, wherever possible, such posts will be run-through training posts that give the junior doctors concerned greater assurance that they can qualify and get their certificate of completion of specialist training in due course.

It is not only doctors who have problems. As the Royal College of Nursing made clear in its surveys, many nurses are leaving college unsure that they will find jobs; indeed, many do not find jobs. In some cases, half or more of the graduate output do not find jobs. Some 100,000 nurses are due to retire in the next five years, and over the next three years there will be a 20 per cent. reduction in the number of nursing training places. What are the prospects for nurses? I met a nurse in my surgery just last Friday, who said:

"I have just qualified as a nurse, and finished my degree in children's nursing at the beginning of July. I have been applying for jobs since May and am still unemployed...for one interview I attended, 45 candidates were being interviewed from over 120 applications. I am at a loss to know what to do."

I also received a copy of the following letter from a lady, who writes:

"My daughter will qualify as a psychiatric nurse in August after three years of training...She and her fellow students have been informed that there will be no training posts for them in Cornwall on qualification...The situation now is that she will not have a job in the Health Service within her chosen profession. And she will not be able to find employment abroad without one year of post qualification training."

Let us consider physiotherapists. How many Members present met members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy when they came here in July? Well, I met the students from the Royal London: 99 students completed the course, but only one has a job.

A lady writes to me:

"My daughter is one of hundreds of newly qualified physiotherapists unable to get a job because of the crisis in the NHS...My local hospital has a waiting list of 10 months to see a physiotherapist."

Somebody writes from Norwich that of 96 students leaving physiotherapy training only five found jobs. A letter from Lincolnshire states:

"Not one student from Nottingham (which is a centre of excellence for physiotherapy) has been able to find employment as a physiotherapist in the NHS. This abysmal situation appears to be directly due to the budget deficits across the NHS."

I have a question for the Secretary of State, because a practical issue is involved. In Scotland, as she knows, the Scottish NHS guarantees nurses and physiotherapists a year of employment following their graduation. Will she say that the same thing will happen in England?