The Royal College of Nursing puts current nurse turnover at 21 per cent (compared with 14 per cent in 1987 and 12 per cent in 1992).

The government's Office of Manpower Economics data shows turnover is highest in North Thames region (20 per cent) and lowest in Scotland (5 per cent). In inner London it is 26 per cent.

The RCN estimates that the NHS is 8,000 nurses short.

A survey of 74,000 agency nurses found 12,000 wanted a permanent job but couldn't find one that suited their family commitments.2

The Audit Commission calculates it costs a total of pounds5,000 to recruit a nurse.3

Nine out of 10 trusts surveyed by Income Data Services said they had experienced recruitment problems.4

A quarter of registered nurses are eligible for retirement by 2000 according to an analysis by the UKCC and Department of Employment.

New entries to the register fell from 19,863 in 1994-95 to 19,632

for 1995-96.

In a Unison survey of 1,300 nurses, 89 per cent reported an increase in workload, pressure and stress levels.

The government has allocated pounds20.5m for an extra 1,300 student places.

The Department of Health has targeted pounds10.4m at nurse retention and

return-to-practice initiatives.