Letters: Missing Nurses

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Your report ("Nurses respond to appeal", 3 March) that 41,398 nurses have responded to the Government's campaign to alleviate the recruitment crisis is incorrect.

In fact, the statement refers to callers, and only 3,300 were qualified nurses inquiring as to the possibility of returning to the NHS. While the Government appears to count so exactly, and spin so efficiently, the number of callers to a helpline, astonishingly it does not even collect its own data on nursing vacancies in the NHS.

Instead it has been forced to cobble together outside information to provide an estimate (almost certainly an underestimate) of 9,000 nursing vacancies. This is three times more than the number of nurses calling to inquire about training, and so there is no cause for complacency.

Dr EVAN HARRIS MP

(Oxford West and Abingdon, Lib Dem)

House of Commons,

London SW1

The writer is Liberal Democrat NHS spokesman

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