The number of nurses working in the NHS in England has continued to grow over the past year but at less than half the rate of doctors and managers.
Full time equivalent qualified nurses increased by 2 per cent between 2008-09, compared with a rise of 4.1 per cent for doctors and 12.1 per cent for managers, according to annual figures from the NHS Information Centre.
Headcount figures vary widely across different regions, with East Midlands employing 7.1 per cent more nurses in 2009 than in the previous year, while in Yorkshire numbers only grew by 0.4 per cent.
Over the past decade, the average annual increase was 2.5 per cent, with East of England seeing the biggest rise of 2.7 per cent and South East Coast having the smallest rise, of 1.7 per cent.
NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson said the fact there were 1,900 more GPs and 3,000 more nurses working the community since 1997 meant care was being moved closer to people’s homes.
He said: “The NHS has enjoyed record investment over the last decade and patients have reaped the benefits.
“It is NHS staff who have delivered these benefits - reducing healthcare associated infections to their lowest ever rate, reducing waiting times in A&E and for hospital treatment, and expanding access to GP services.
“However the NHS is entering a period of less growth and the service is focused on improving quality and productivity to release efficiency savings that can be re-invested back into the service.”
Royal College of Nursing executive director of nursing and service delivery Janet Davies welcomed the rise in qualified nurses working in the NHS but warned against reductions in the coming years.
She said: “It is vital that we maintain a long-term view on the NHS workforce, focus on recruiting and retaining skilled staff, and avoid slash and burn approaches which would adversely affect patient care.”
The RCN is calling for safer staffing levels as part of its general election manifesto.
Headcount change by region:
|South East Coast||1.7%||1.4%|