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Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Supernurses 'to be doubled'

Some nurses could be paid over 40,000 a year
The number of "consultant nurses", paid more than 40,000 a year, is to be doubled, the government has announced.

The new role, giving nurses much more say in the way patient care is run, was introduced to stop experienced nurses leaving the NHS because they felt their skills were underused.

However, the initiative was criticised because only a few nurses could hope to reach that level.

So far, 141 nurse consultant posts have been created.

However, visiting St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London, on Tuesday, Health Secretary Alan Milburn said that many more nurses would get the chance of the top job.

He said: "I want to liberate the talents of nurses in the NHS.

"New nurse consultants mean frontline nurses having more influence over the care patients receive.

"For the first time nurses can stay and work on wards and in the community and at the same time progress their careers."

Within a year, there will be 280 nurse consultant posts.

Consulting doctors

Mr Milburn also announced that more than 100 NHS doctors, nurses and managers are to help decide where extra money for the service should be spent.

The "action plans" for NHS modernisation heralded in Prime Minister Tony Blair's post-Budget speech will be drawn up under consultation with more than frontline health workers.

And health ministers have pledged to tour the country meeting health service staff.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn said that the tour and the consultation process would "forge a national alliance" between the government and NHS workers.

He said: "The government will be working with staff and patients in the NHS to make sure that the money is used wisely and well.

"We have drawn on talent from across the NHS to help draw up the national plan.

"Staff from throughout the NHS will be able to have their say face-to-face with ministers about how services can be modernised."

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See also:

09 Jul 99 | Health
'Super-nurses' arrive
03 Apr 00 | Health
Nurses reject organ reform
04 Jan 00 | Health
Nurses ditch 'Carry On' image
17 Jan 00 | Health
Nurses welcome pay boost
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