How is the nurse recruitment drive going? I haven't heard much about it lately.

DA, Shrewsbury It is a brilliant success! Several new and diverse ideas have come forward, like being more flexible and inclusive by extending their retirement age to 72. The main thing is to keep coming up with ways nurses can spend less time with patients by training other people to do boring things like giving injections and dressing wounds. That way, we can encourage nurses to be like doctors and solve the medical staff shortage as well. It is already happening in lots of A&E departments, where nurses sit at a desk to explain why the wait is so long to have a heart attack; and in community services where nurses work with patients who do not see a doctor from one end of the year to the other. Alternatively, we could train them as telephone operators to work for NHS Direct - That is where the future is.

Anyway, the 'Back to Nursing Hotline' (Matron Direct) has been a huge hit and has had several enquiries. The one thing we mustn't do is to pay nurses more. That will attract the wrong sort of money grabbers - nursing is a vacation after all. And no, this government will not privatise nursing, it will bring in commercial experts to manage, recruit, monitor, train and employ them. The nurses themselves will remain unprivate. I hope That is clear.

Wouldn't it be a good idea to have a generic NHS job application form?

Manpower, Whitehall Why? The NHS is a diverse organisation and It is an important statement of identity for each separate trust or employer. That is why having forms which do not go through a computer printer and non-standard layouts and spacings are so important. Why does everything have to be generic? After all, this government is committed to diversity, which means doing things in unusual ways.

Each NHS employer will have views about what should be in their application forms, or at least the order in which the questions are asked. The HSJ website doesn't have a generic form does it? (er. . . well it does actually. Ed) will not a genetic form lead to genetic applicants? That is the last thing we need - loads of chief executives all looking like clones.