A report from the college said nurse student numbers were in a 'spiralling decline'. A 20 per cent cut in intake next year would mean the student population in 1997 would be two-thirds that of 1983.
'Drastic cuts are being made in the number of nurses trained in the UK,' the college said, and 'unless urgent action is taken now to reverse the cuts in nursing students, patients will suffer'.
Baroness Cumberlege, the health minister, accused the college of changing its tune. 'Not many months ago the Royal College accused the department of training nurses for the dole queue. We are now planning to correct the over-production of nurses.'