NHS staffing numbers in England fell by 0.2% between 2011 and 2012, it has emerged.
The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) revealed that there were 1,358,295 people working for the NHS in England as of September 30 of last year, which is 3,238 fewer than a year earlier.
While HSCIC figures revealed a slight year-on-year decrease in staffing numbers, it emerged that the number of people employed by the NHS in England has risen by 16.6% in the last 10 years.
This means that there are now nearly 196,812 more NHS workers in England than there were in 2002 when 1,161,483 were on the NHS payroll in England. The translates to a 1.6% increase in the NHS workforce in England every year during this period.
While the HSCIC report showed an increase in most clinical staff categories in the 12 months to September of last year, there was a reduction in the number of hospital and community health service nurses, clinical support workers and infrastructure staff during this time.
HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said: “Today’s figures show an overall fall in staff numbers over the latest year, with decreases for nurses and support staff. However, if we consider these figures compared to a decade ago, there are now about 200,000 more people working for the NHS in England.”
NHS Employers director Dean Royles said it was hardly surprising that NHS staff numbers have fallen considering the pressure the organisation is under to cut costs and become more efficient. He added: “When two-thirds of NHS spending is on its staff it’s remarkable that the overall change is so small.”