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Nurse workforce in Wales has climbed to new high, claim ministers

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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”

Mark Drakeford

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.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Hmmm - how many of these nurses are working as bought in agency nurses at a very very high cost.
    Two weeks ago it was announced that major mistakes had been made in new nurse projections, Workforce Planning for NHS Wales called WEDS. These senior civil servants, Nurses, have been in post for many years - will they be held accountable?
    So it is really good that the Minister is providing more funding for new student nurses but they will be in the workforce in 3 years time not now. In the meantime NHS Wales is paying a fortune for agency nurses and stealing registered nurses from other countries who need their expertise there not here.

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