The number of NHS nurses and health visitors in England dropped by 872 in August compared to the previous month, latest data reveals.
But the new figures from NHS Digital show the situation has improved from last year.
In the 12 months between August 2017 and August 2018, the number of nurses and health visitors in the NHS workforce in England increased by 1,482.
There has also been overall increase of 3,319 since the data set began, from 278,470 in September 2009 to 281,789 in August 2018.
However, the figures continue to highlight concerns in mental health, learning disability and school nursing.
Dr Crystal Oldman, chief executive of the Queen’s Nursing Institute, said she was concerned about the “lack of understanding of the nurses’ roles in schools”.
She added: “There isn’t an interest in keeping up the numbers of school nurses or they might be seen as a way of being able to cut funding by reducing the numbers.
Source: Kate Stanworth
“If we, as a profession are able to articulate our value and we’re able to demonstrate the difference in health outcomes for the people that we work with, then commissioners would have much harder job in saying we don’t need to have school nurses.”
Ms Oldman added: “Nurses and health visitors prevent illness, improve health and save money- three very simple things that commissioners need the evidence of.”
The number of school nurses in the NHS workforce has fallen to the lowest level on record, dropping 25% from 2,915 in September 2009 to 2,187 in August 2018.
Mental health nurses declined by 13% over the same period, from 40,602 to 35,368.
But the biggest fall was seen in learning disability nurses.
The number of learning disability nurses in the NHS plummeted a massive 42%, from 5,553 to 3,195.
Also commenting on the latest workforce statistics, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “These figures fit with what we are hearing across the NHS: that providers of care and services are continuing to experience increased demand – and a number of challenging workforce shortages, particularly in mental health and learning disability services. This demand is only expected to increase in light of the priorities of the new NHS long-term plan.
“To continue to provide high-quality care, NHS organisations accept that they need to work harder to recruit and retain their workforce.
“At the same time the government and national organisations can help this effort by focusing on stimulating supply, supportive migration policy, reforming the apprenticeship levy and reinstating lost CPD funds.”