§ Mr. Hutton
The information requested is shown in the table.
NHS Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS): Registered midwives in England as at 30 September each year Whole-time equivalent Headcount 2003 18,444 23,941 2002 18,119 23,249 2001 18,048 23,075 2000 17,662 22,572 1999 17,876 22,799 1998 18,168 22,841 1997 18,053 22,385 1996 18,262 22,595 19951 18,034 22,022 1994 19,291 23,050 1993 19,554 23,353 1992 20,283 24,020 1991 19,685 23,368 1990 19,897 23,143 1989 19,213 22,391 1988 19,290 22,319 1987 19,312 22,117 1986 18,850 21,549 1985 18,431 21,067 1984 17,820 20,438 1983 17,309 19,814 19822 16,268 18,439 1981 12,743 14,763 1980 13,056 15,209 1979 12,525 14,617 1978 12,115 14,078 1977 12,277 14,192 1976 12,248 14,144 1975 11,380 13,311 1974 10,562 12,300 1A new system of occupation coding for NHS non-medical staff was introduced in 1995. The new codes classify staff according to what they do rather than the terms and conditions under which they are employed i.e. national pay scales. Figures based on new occupation codes are not directly comparable with those based on the old pay scale classification. Therefore figures since 1995 are not comparable with earlier years. 2 From 1982 onwards data are taken from the Department of Health Non-Medical Workforce Census. Prior to 1982 data are taken from the Health and Personal Social Services Statistics for England (HPSSS). Data from HPSSS contains hospital-based staff only and is therefore not directly comparable with later years. Notes: Figures are rounded to the nearest whole number. All figures exclude learners and agency staff. Sources: Department of Health Non-Medical Workforce Census. Health and Personal Social Services Statistics for England (HPSSS).
§ Dr. Murrison
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nurses have(a) entered and (b) completed training since 1997; and how many of those have (i) been recruited into the national health service and (ii) are still working in the national health service. 
§ Mr. Hutton
Information on the number of nurses and midwives entering training each year since 1997 is shown in the table.
Pre-registration nursing and midwifery training commissions Headcount 1996–97 14,984 1997–98 16,539 1998–99 17,689 1999–2000 18,707 2000–01 20,021 2001–02 21,770 2002–03 22,956 Source: Quarterly Monitoring Reports.
Information on the number of nurses who complete training each year was collected by the English National Board for Nursing, until its abolition in March 2002 with the creation of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). The latest complete information is only available for the 1997–98 cohort of nursing and midwifery students, of whom 72 per cent. had completed training by October 2001.
Information is not collected centrally on the number of nurses completing training recruited into the national health service or still working in the NHS. The NMC holds information on the number of nurses and midwives initially entering the register, a pre-requisite for employment in the NHS and other sectors in the United Kingdom. This information can be found on the NMC website at www.nmc-uk.org.
Between 1997 and 2003, there has been a net increase of 67,503 qualified nurses employed in the NHS.
§ Mrs. Iris Robinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action is being taken to increase the input of front-line nurses into departmental policy formation. 
§ Ms Rosie Winterton
Frontline nurses contribute directly to policy development as individual members of working groups, policy boards and clinical advisory networks. They also contribute though their national health service trusts modernisation programmes and professional organisations which meet regularly with the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO). The contribution of frontline nurses to policy is being increased by engaging the new strategic health authority lead nurses, greater use of electronic communication, visits to the NHS by Ministers and officials and linking modernisation programmes to policy work.
§ Mrs. Iris Robinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of nursing students withdrew from university courses in each of the past five years. 
§ Mr. Hutton
Information for England on the percentage of pre-registration student nurses who have left their university course is shown in the following table. The recently received attrition data for the 1387W 2002–03 academic year administered by the Higher Education Statistics Agency is in the process of being analysed.
Percentage withdrawn 1996–1997 20.38 1997–1998 20.16 1998–1999 18.16 1999–2000 13.44 2000–2001 6.21 Note: This data is based on a snapshot in time of a particular cohort(s) and therefore each year there will still be students who have yet to complete their course.