The number of nursing posts in the health service has declined by almost 1,000 in just one month.
Between March and April, the number of nurses, midwives and health visitors fell by 956.
The number of full-time equivalent qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff in the NHS in England now stands at 307,939, according to the latest data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
The figure is almost 3,000 fewer than when the coalition government took office in May 2010.
But the total headcount has fallen by more than 5,000.
The number of doctors working in hospitals and community settings also fell by 915 in the same month.
There were 101,045 full-time equivalent non-locum doctors in March, which fell to 100,131 in April.
But the number is still around 4,200 higher than when the coalition came to power three years ago.
The total number of full-time equivalent roles in the health service fell by 6,902 between March and April, when it stood at 1,036,571.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “The NHS simply cannot continue to take nursing cuts on this scale and maintain standards of patient care. Job losses on this scale are dangerous.
“David Cameron likes to blame everyone else but these figures show he is ignoring warnings from Robert Francis and Bruce Keogh about the importance of safe staffing levels. This Prime Minister has given six-figure pay-offs to managers and P45s for nurses.
“David Cameron must urgently intervene to ensure safe staffing levels in our hospitals.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman said there is often a small drop in workforce figures in April because many fixed-term contracts and other employment arrangements finish at the end of a financial year.
She said: “There are over 5,500 more clinical staff in the NHS since May 2010, while the number of admin staff, managers and senior managers has fallen by nearly 21,500.
“Hospitals themselves must decide how many and which staff they employ, and they must also publish details and evidence to show that numbers are right for the care needs of the patients that they look after.
“The new Chief Inspector of Hospitals will be able to take action if hospitals are found to be compromising patient care by not having the right number of staff on wards.”
Peter Carter, general secretary of the RCN, said: “Any decrease in the number of nursing staff is untenable and dangerous.
“Staffing levels directly correlate with standards of care and safety for patients.
“Recent examples highlighted by Bruce Keogh show that where nurse numbers are slashed, standards of care plummet. It’s impossible to give patients the highest quality of care, treatment and compassion they deserve without the right frontline resource and expertise on hand, round-the-clock.”
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