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A Chronic shortage of nurses is reaching crisis point throughout the country.

It's hardly surprising. Under the Tories, the NHS has been run down to the point of extinction.

Worst hit are inner-city hospitals, as qualifying nurses fail to plug gaps left by those retiring, leaving the NHS or quitting altogether. Competition from the private sector and GP surgeries makes it even more difficult for NHS hospitals, grappling with cuts and closures, to attract staff.

A worldwide nursing shortage has tempted many British nurses abroad. And there has been a catastrophic drop in the number of nurses trained - from 37,000 in 1983 to just 8,000 this year. Things can only get better.

Labour health spokeswoman Tessa Jowell says: "The modern nurse is knowledgeable and innovative. Labour values nurses' worth in caring for the sick in hospitals, GP surgeries and the community.

"We intend to raise morale within the health service, which has been so tragically deteriorating under the Tories.

"We will attract new recruits, entice back nurses who have quit the NHS, and encourage nurse-led initiatives.

"Under a new government, there will be many more who can take up their vocation knowing that they can trust us to look after them."

The number of jobs for nurses is growing. There are 23,000 more jobs than five years ago and unemployment among nurses is less than one per cent.

As there are NHS hospitals, GP surgeries, and private health facilities all over Britain, it should be possible to move around to follow family commitments.

"We have to invest in nurses to get the highly-skilled, well-motivated profession we need," says Christine Hancock, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing.

Nurse training changed in 1991, when responsibility was transferred from hospital-run schools of nursing to universities.

Entrants need higher academic qualifications and spend less time on wards and more in classrooms.

During their three-year training, students get an annual bursary of pounds 4,450. They need at least five GCSE passes at grade C or a diploma of higher education in health care - usually a one-year college course.

Lois Crooke, who runs Thames Valley University's nursing school, says: "We're looking for intelligent people with compassion, maturity and a sense of humour. It also helps if they have work experience in a doctor's surgery or an old people's home."

Training involves 18 months' general study followed by 18 months' specialising in either adult, children's, mental health or learning disabilities.

Would-be nurses should contact the English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting, ENB Careers, PO Box 2EN, London W1A 2EN, for details.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Palmer, Jill
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 24, 1997
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