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New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Thursday enhanced the retirement age of nursing teachers with postgraduate qualification to 65, in order to prevent an "exodus" and help retain trained staff.

The decision was taken in a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said, reports IANS.

Pointing out that the nursing teachers presently retire at 60, Soni said, "The decision would help in prevention of exodus and retention of teachers in the central government's nursing institutions and help them provide quality healthcare facilities."

"There is an acute shortage of nursing teachers with postgraduate degrees in nursing.. A large number of posts of teachers with MSc (Nursing) are lying vacant in the various central government nursing institutions," the minister said.

"As an immediate step to check further depletion in the availability of faculty, the union cabinet decided to enhance the age of superannuation from existing 60 years to 65 years," she added.

"The National Commission on Macroeconomics of Health has estimated a wide gap in demand and supply of nurses in near future," Soni said ,adding that the commission has also recommended opening of new nursing colleges and upgrading existing schools and colleges.

To meet this growing demand of nurses, the 11th Five Year Plan envisages opening of new nursing colleges, she said.

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