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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 January 2007, 14:49 GMT
Tories ponder nurse job guarantee
Nurses
Many new nurses are searching for permanent work
Graduate nurses could be given a guarantee of one-year employment under a Tory government, David Cameron says.

The Tory leader told a nurses conference it would allow them to gain the necessary experience to work elsewhere if there were no NHS jobs.

He said he could not make a pledge at the moment but would look at it as a similar scheme operates in Scotland.

But the government said it should be up to local NHS bosses to decide who to recruit.

No more pointless reorganisations. No more restructuring at the expense of the people who work in the system
David Cameron, Tory leader

Mr Cameron also said he wanted to change regulations to compel hospitals to provide changing and laundry facilities to allow staff to change out of their uniforms before travelling home in a bid to control MRSA rates.

Recent surveys have suggested only half of nurses have access to changing facilities and a third to showers and work-based laundry services.

Speaking to the conference in London, he also pledge not to restructure the NHS if a Tory government was elected.

He said there had been nine reorganisations in the last nine years and, therefore, he would work with the structure of primary care trusts and strategic health authorities he inherited.

"No more pointless reorganisations. No more restructuring at the expense of the people who work in the system."

Employment

On guaranteeing nurses one year of employment, he said there were 14,000 graduate nurses - about three quarters of graduates - looking for employment and within four years there would be 14,000 vacant jobs.

"One way of helping address problems of supply and demand is the way that nursing training is organised in Scotland.

"There, nurses are guaranteed a year's employment once they leave education.

"This allows them to consolidate their training and gain first-hand clinical experience.

"It also means that if no appropriate jobs are available for them after the year ends, they have the skills to seek nursing work in other organisations or the voluntary sector.

"Let me be clear. I cannot make a pledge today along those lines. But we are going to look at whether a similar scheme in England would assist the recruitment of NHS nurses."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said guaranteeing nurses a year's work had been considered, but it was best for local NHS employers to make decisions on who they employed.

"The Department of Health has discussed the feasibility of guaranteed employment schemes with Strategic Health Authorities and NHS Employers.

"Based on these discussions, we are not yet convinced of the merits of a guaranteed employment scheme. It is important that local employers are allowed to determine the numbers of staff they recruit."

But the Royal College of Nursing said it would support any moves to introduce an employment guarantee.

General secretary Dr Peter Carter said: "All too often workforce planning can seem like a rollercoaster ride with surplus following shortage, so when newly qualified nurses cannot get a job it is nothing short of a scandal.

"David Cameron's pledge to look at guaranteeing newly qualified nurses a year's NHS employment is a step forward. It would be good for nurses, and good for patients."




SEE ALSO
Graduate nurses face job shortage
17 Oct 06 |  Leicestershire
Trainee nurses 'do have future'
08 Oct 06 |  Staffordshire
Nurses get job offers Down Under
06 Oct 06 |  Hereford/Worcs

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