Number of NHS nurses ''down by 3,500''
22 March 2012
According to one interpretation of the latest health service workforce census figures, the number of nurses in the NHS has gone down by 3,500 in the last year.
However, the government insisted that the figures from the NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care (NHS ICHSC) showed that "more clinical staff were working in the NHS than ever before, while the number of managers had fallen dramatically". Also, there are over 240,000 more people working for the NHS than there were 10 years ago.
The figures showed that overall the workforce had gone down by 19,799 to 1,350,377, a reduction of 1.4 per cent. The biggest drop was certainly in the number of managers – which went down by 8.9 per cent to 38,214 – but NHS support staff went down to 219,624, a drop of 5.9 per cent, and hospital and community health service nurses numbers declined by 3,411 (1 per cent). At the same time, the number of GPs and consultants went up by 0.9 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively.
Tim Straughan, chief executive of the NHS ICHSC, said: "The report shows the fall in the NHS staff numbers is primarily in non-clinical, particularly managerial, posts. Most categories of professionally qualified clinical staff saw increases in their numbers, although nurses saw a small decline but numbers are still up on 10 years ago. The number of managers and senior managers fell 8.9 per cent in the year to September 2011, though again, numbers are still up on 2001 levels."
However, Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: "These figures are yet further evidence of the rising scale of cuts to NHS jobs and services... despite the rhetoric, we know that frontline jobs are not being protected and NHS trusts must stop making cuts in a quick fix attempt to save money. Put bluntly, the idea that cutting hundreds of jobs from a hospital will not affect the care of patients is ludicrous."
The health minister Simon Burns said: "We welcome the latest figures that show there are more clinical staff working in the NHS than ever before, while the number of managers has fallen dramatically. Compared to May 2010, there are now over 4,000 more doctors and over 900 more midwives in the NHS. In contrast, the number of admin staff and managers has fallen by over 15,000, creating savings that will be reinvested into frontline patient care. Between September 2010 and 2011 alone, this number fell by over 11,700."
He added: "We believe passionately in the NHS, and this is why funding will increase by £12.5bn over the next four years, protecting the NHS for the future."