Labour claims drop in NHS staff numbers

Safe staffing not being taken seriously by government, says alliance leader

Hospital wards are being left dangerously understaffed, according to Labour, which claims new figures show a fall in staff numbers.

An analysis of NHS workforce statistics from 2015 shows that the number of nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff working in the NHS has fallen from 6,786 per million population in November 2009 to 6,645 in November 2015.

Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander said: ‘These figures are further proof that David Cameron’s government is failing patients and failing the NHS. Six years of failed Tory NHS policies has left hospital wards dangerously understaffed and nurses struggling to cope.’

Safe Staffing Alliance chair Susan Osborne said: ‘Any report on staffing from NHS England and NHS Improvement is unlikely to be until the end of this year or next. This is not being taken seriously enough by the government and NHS England and NHS Improvement are not showing the health secretary how important this is.’

She said the only solution now would be to push for mandated staffing levels.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘We expect all parts of the NHS to make sure they have the right staff, in the right place, at the right time to provide safe care - which is why there are already more than 10,400 additional nurses on our wards since May 2010, as well as over 50,000 nurses currently in training.

‘Our changes to student nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals funding will also create up to 10,000 more training places by the end of this parliament.’