To ask the Secretary of State for Health
(2) if he will commission research to establish the number of UK nurse trainees who do not register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and their reasons.
The Department have a continuing programme of research into workforce issues, which is reviewed on a regular basis. The Nursing Research Unit at King's College London has undertaken studies of the careers of the 1990–91 cohort of registered general nurses and the 1997–98 cohort of Project 2000 diplomates. Both studies provide information about practising overseas, the findings will be placed in the Library. The diplomate cohort provides information about registering with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
With regard to registering with the NMC, the study showed that the overwhelming majority of newly qualified or about to qualify nurses and midwives had registered or were about to register with the NMC. With regard to practising overseas, while many nurses and midwives expressed an interest in working abroad while in training, of these who intended to work overseas, under 2 per cent., actually went on to work abroad once they started nursing.
Nurses have always used their qualifications to work overseas. The United Kingdom is a net importer of nurses and midwives and there are more qualified nurses working in the national health service than ever before. Between September 1997 and March 2003 there has been an increase of over 55,000 nurses working in the NHS. This shows that our recruitment and retention policies are working and suggests that overseas nurses consider the UK to be a good place to work.