The NHS nursing workforce in England is continuing to shrink, latest figures suggest.
The NHS Information Centre has published its latest monthly update on the size of NHS hospital and community health service workforce.
The provisional figures suggest the total NHS workforce fell by 3,431 whole time equivalent staff between July and August, from 1,035,862 to 1,032,431.
Qualified nursing and midwifery staff made up around a third of the total reduction.
The number of WTE qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff fell from 305,578 to 304,566, a drop of 1,012.
When broken down further, the figures showed the number of midwives had fallen by 53, from 21,075 to 21,022, and the number of health visitors by 13, from 8,080 to 8,067.
The number of WTE school nurses fell from 1,182 to 1,180, representing a drop of three.
Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These numbers are further evidence of the damaging effect that cuts are having on the NHS.
“We have frequently stated our concerns that this level of cuts will have a long lasting and detrimental impact on patient care.
“The latest statistics show that the cuts to NHS staff show no sign of slowing down.”
Christina McAnea, Unison head of health, said: “This will have a huge impact on patient care, which staff are vital to delivering.”
The NHS Information Centre figures do not include community staff that have moved to social enterprise schemes or private companies, but continue to do work for the NHS, under the transforming community services programme. Primary care staff are not included either.