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Tuesday, March 9, 1999 Published at 10:47 GMT


Praise for £5m nursing recruitment

The scheme targets former nurses who have children to look after

The Royal College of Nursing says Health Secretary Frank Dobson should be "congratulated" over moves to encourage former nurses to return to work.

Geeta Guru-Murphy reports: " Pay is still an issue"
Hospitals are to be given an extra £5m to pay for practical schemes such as better child care, more flexible shifts and refresher training.

The General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Christine Hancock, said it was a small amount of money, but it would make a difference.

Christine Hancock: "We have been arguing for this since 1992"
She said: "Frank Dobson needs to be congratulated for recognising and treating seriously the shortage of nurses.

"Frank Dobson is the first person who has come along and said 'Yes, there is a real problem, we've got to tackle it ... we've got to put real money towards it'."

The government is also embarking on an advertising campaign to increase numbers.

[ image: Nurses are being offered improved rotas]
Nurses are being offered improved rotas
The £5m will be spent by health authorities to make it easier for former nurses, especially those with families, to return to the NHS.

It follows a survey showing that one out of five nurses not currently working plan to return to the profession and that three in five might be tempted back.

Most said the option of part-time and flexible working hours would be key factors in getting them back into hospitals.

Nursing 99
Launching the scheme, Mr Dobson said: "The results of the return to nursing survey show that we are right to focus not only on pay but also on the need to improve the whole working environment for nurses.

"The NHS needs more nurses and this report shows that there are thousands of nurses who would like to come back, providing that employers are sensitive to their needs."

Mr Dobson said he would write to all "potential nurse returners" who have phoned a government recruitment hotline.

He said "everything possible will be done to support those nurses who wish to return and that NHS managers have been told to introduce family-friendly policies with flexible rotas to make it easier for them to look after their families as well as their jobs".

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