The number of qualified nurses working in the Welsh NHS has topped 22,000 for the first time, ministers have announced.
Health minister for Wales Mark Drakeford trumpeted the latest NHS workforce figures today, as part of the Labour party’s attempts to defend its record on the health service ahead of the general election.
There are now 22,070.3 whole time equivalent (WTE) registered nurses working in the Welsh NHS, he said. This is up from 21,686 WTE nurses in 2011 and represents an increase of 384 during the current assembly term, he added.
“I’m delighted to see the number of registered nurses working in the Welsh NHS has exceeded 22,000 for the first time”
The workforce announcement comes hot on the heels of news last week of a boost in student nurse places in Wales. Mr Drakeford announced investment of £80m, meaning the number of training places for nurses in 2015-16 will increase by 22% on current levels.
Speaking on today’s figures, he said: “I’m delighted to see the number of registered nurses working in the Welsh NHS has exceeded 22,000 for the first time.
“The continued investment in NHS staff means Wales has seen the largest rise in the number of nurses in post since 1999,” he said. “The overall number of nursing staff in post has increased each year between 1999 and 2014.”
Mr Drakeford claimed the figures were a “clear demonstration” of the Welsh Government’s commitment to invest in NHS staff, which he described as its “greatest asset”.
However, latest performance figures show that accident and emergency departments in Wales are continuing to struggling.
During January, 82.3% of patients spent less than four hours in Welsh A&E departments from arrival, until admission, transfer or discharge, compared to the target of 95%. The figures also showed that 3,051 spent more than 12 hours in A&E.