Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Number of nurses working in English NHS continues to fall


Latest workforce figures have revealed a further decrease in the number of nurses and health visitors working in the NHS in England.

At 30 September 2017, the number of whole-time equivalent nurses and health visitors, excluding nurses in GP practices, stood at 284,000 – a decrease of 0.2% (435) since 2016.

“These official figures show the number of nurses continuing to slide”

Janet Davies

There were 15,800 WTE nurses in GP practices, a decrease of 0.2 per cent (27) on 2016, according to figures in a new NHS Digital report on healthcare workforce statistics, published today. In contrast, there were 21,200 WTE midwives, an increase of 0.8% (168) since 2016.

Overall, the number of WTE staff working in the NHS in England has increased by 1.5% (17,900) since 2016. At 30 September 2017, there were 1.21 million WTE staff working for the NHS in England, compared to 1.20 million at the same point in 2016.

While nurse numbers had continued to fall, there were increases in both the numbers of doctors and managers, the figures revealed.

For example, there were 52,800 WTE hospital doctors in training, an increase of 2.4% (1,250) since 2016, and consultant numbers stood at 45,800 WTE, an increase of 3.4% (1,490) since 2016.

In addition, the number of managers stood at 21,700 WTE, an increase of 3.3% (687) on 2016, and the number of senior managers stood at 10,300 WTE, an increase of 7.0% (676) on 2016.

Figures on some of the independent sector healthcare workforce providing NHS-commissioned services are also included in today’s report.

The total number of WTE staff working in the independent healthcare workforce at 30 September 2017 was 46,900, based on those organisations that provided data to NHS Digital.

Janet davies

Janet davies

Janet Davies

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These official figures show the number of nurses continuing to slide.

“It feels to frontline nursing staff that, in a cash-strapped NHS, they have become an easy target for cuts,” she said. “It will be galling when they see senior management burgeoning too – now officially the fastest growing part of the NHS.

“Against a backdrop of modest boosts to medical professions – in a bid to keep pace with soaring demand – nursing is shrinking,” said Ms Davies. “All the while, nurses are responsible for the vast majority of hands-on patient care – standards rise and fall with the number of nurses.”

She also highlighted recent figures showing there were around 40,000 nurse vacancies in England and warned that, as a result, elements of patient care would “inevitably continue to go undone”.

She reiterated the RCN’s calls for the government to reinstate bursaries for student nurses, boost nurse pay and introduce safe staffing legislation.


Readers' comments (3)

  • Nurses are becoming senior managers, that's the whole secret.

    joking, :-D
    Have a nice evening.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It seems to me that the Government, NMC, RCN and Unison do not care about the NHS otherwise the issues would have been resolved regarding recruitment. The difficulties put on foreign nurses offering to come here to improve the care has been severely hampered by the ridged IELTS and OSCE so many will not come. Nurse training will decline because of attitudes in the NHS. In the USA trump has made it more difficult for people to get is this population control creeping in?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Recommended reading:
    "The Ragged Trousered philanthropists" by Robert Tressell;
    "Animal Farm" by George Orwell.
    And if those warnings don't work, I would recommend "Food For Free" by Richard Mabey.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs