Speaking in Parliament, Peter Lilley said the government?s attempt to get health care on the cheap by refusing to pay NHS nurses sufficient to recruit and retain home grown staff is doomed to failure. It forces us to import 15,000 nurses from abroad to make good the 8,000 British trained nurses who emigrate each year and the loss of a third of those we train who then turn their back on nursing.
Peter Lilley said: “Sooner or later we are going to have to face up to this issue. It is immoral to staff the NHS by denuding poor countries of the nurses they have expensively trained. When we take into account the cost of employing agency nurses, the cost of housing nurses imported from overseas and the cost of training nurses who then go abroad or into other occupations it would probably not cost the taxpayer anymore if we paid nurses the full market wage needed to recruit and retain British people into the profession.
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Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): Will the Minister confirm that that huge reliance on agency staff at immense cost is proof that ultimately one cannot buck the market? Attempts to staff our hospitals with nurses with different pay and conditions mean that we cannot balance demand and supply domestically. We have to import 15,000 nurses a year because we are losing 8,000 British-trained nurses overseas, and nearly one third of nurses with British nurse training go elsewhere. Ultimately, to achieve a balanced domestic supply we must pay a proper rate for our nurses rather than wasting money in this way.
Mr. Hutton: I agree strongly that we need to pay nurses more and give them a better rate of pay. That is precisely what we are doing with Agenda for Change, which has been negotiated with nurses and the Royal College of Nursing in particular. It gives us an opportunity to make significant progress in this important area?something that was quite invisible when the right hon. Gentleman‘s party was in charge of the national health service.