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Nicky Morgan challenged over '50,000 new nurses' Tory pledge

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan defended the Conservative manifesto pledge that there will be 50,000 more nurses in 10 years, despite figures suggesting 19,000 will be retained staff.

Asked by Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain how it is ‘more’ when 19,000 of the 50,000 nurses will come from keeping nurses the NHS already has, Nicky Morgan said: “Because the 50,000 more is exactly what it says. In 10 years’ time there will be 50,000 more nurses in our NHS, which is obviously good news for patients and their families.”

Pushed that they are ‘recounting’ existing nurses she said: “No, what we’re saying is, as part of making sure that in 10 years’ time there are 50,000 more nurses, like any employer - and of course the NHS is a huge employer - retaining your highly-skilled staff is a key part of your workforce strategy.”

Watch the full interview above.

Asked again that it doesn’t mean there are more nurses, it means there are 31,000 more and hanging on to 19,000 she said: “No, look, the bottom line and the manifesto is crystal clear on this, 50,000 more nurses by the time we get to 10 years’ time. They will be there through a variety of different routes, some absolutely will be retained – and that is a key part of any workforce strategy, you don’t want to lose your highly skilled staff.”

Put to Nicky that stopping people leaving is not more, she said: “50,000 more nurses there through a variety of different routes, some will be retained.”

Asked further how can it be 50,000 more nurses if 19,000 are already nurses, she said: “Well because there’ll be 50k more…”

She continued: “They will not have left the NHS, we will have kept them in the NHS, plus recruiting through apprenticeships and through degrees and through graduates and everything else.”

To clarify again, Nicky was asked if 19,000 of the 50,000 are already current NHS nurses. She replied: “And we would expect, if you look at the numbers of nursing staff who leave the NHS it is far too high. So like any employer you want to make sure that you are keeping your skilled staff and that is absolutely part of the strategy.”

Asked why not say that, that you are convincing them to stay, she said: “The number overall will be 50k higher.”

Piers Morgan pushed that viewers will think this is nonsense, to which she responded: “There are other ways that nurses come into the NHS. There will be overall, we are very, very clear on this, 50,000 more nurses. If you look in 10 years’ time than there are today.”

Asked why not be honest on this and the number of police officers, she said: “The numbers are very, very clear. And in terms of police officers I think we have said that actually we think there should be more and that it did go too far. The Prime Minister on the steps of Downing Street earlier this year made some very clear commitments about more GP appointments, about more NHS funding, about more police officers, about more money going to schools and getting a deal with the EU. And that’s exactly what he has done, he has lived up and fulfilled those commitments that he gave.”

As an on the record Remainer, Nicky Morgan was asked how she feels about Brexit, she said: “We’ve had this debate before. Absolutely I have a view on it, but it’s not about my view and that’s one of the reasons I found Parliament so frustrating and that’s one of the reasons we’re having this election because Parliament wouldn’t fulfil the 2016 Referendum. What I feel about getting Brexit done is it’s absolutely what needs to be done.”

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