Health Education England is leading a national nursing associate programme with a commitment for 7,500 nursing associate apprentices to enter training in 2019. It is also working with health and care providers to develop a talent pipeline of future nursing associates, as well as sharing how providers are deploying currently qualified nursing associates.
I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, and I thank the Secretary of State for his welcome announcement last month on “Shaping a Healthier Future” in London, which has gone down very well locally. How many more nurses does the Minister for Health think London will need over the spending review period? What specific measures is he taking to improve London’s offer to would-be nurses?
My right hon. Friend is absolutely correct that the Secretary of State’s announcement has gone down extremely well. He will know that there are now more nurses in training than ever before—over 50,000—and he will know that London, in particular, will get its share of those nurses. He should be reassured that we are creating routes into nursing via nurse training, nursing recruitment and, indeed, nursing associates, and their recruitment into valuable roles across the health service will benefit his constituents.
Does the Minister know that when I went to a restaurant the other night with my wife there was a hum and a buzz coming mainly from the young women there? I asked, “Who are all these young women?” The maître d’ said, “They are all young Spanish nurses who are going home. This is their last evening in Britain.” Nursing associates will not fill that gap; these are young people coming in at the classroom assistant level of qualification. We need more nurses now, and we want to stop this haemorrhaging of nurses who are going back to the rest of Europe.
The hon. Gentleman will know that nursing and nursing associate training places are being increased; that more funding is going in to increase nurse training places by 25% every year, from last September; and that we are announcing an expansion of nursing associates. He will see tomorrow, when new figures are announced, that more nurses are working in the NHS than there were this time last year.