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Nurse numbers fall by 30% in adult social care in England since 2012

Skills for Care report ‘shows the impossible strain’ that nursing staff are under
Neil O’Connor

Skills for Care report shows the impossible strain that nursing staff are under

More than 15,000 nursing jobs in adult social care have been lost in England since 2012, a new report has revealed.

The report by charity Skills for Care shows that nursing was the only profession to experience a significant decrease in numbers in the adult social care sector.

In 2012-13, there were 51,500 registered nursing jobs in adult social care.

However, by 2019-20 this figure had fallen by 30% to 36,000.

The reports authors suggest

Skills for Care report ‘shows the impossible strain’ that nursing staff are under


Picture: Neil O’Connor

More than 15,000 nursing jobs in adult social care have been lost in England since 2012, a new report has revealed.

The report by charity Skills for Care shows that nursing was the only profession to experience a significant decrease in numbers in the adult social care sector.

In 2012-13, there were 51,500 registered nursing jobs in adult social care.

However, by 2019-20 this figure had fallen by 30% to 36,000.

The report’s authors suggest this reduction in nursing jobs could be due to the introduction of nursing assistant roles, but added that they are working to obtain data to substantiate this theory.

Increase in numbers of care workers and occupational therapists 

In contrast to nursing, other roles in adult social care increased their numbers during the same time period.

In 2012-13, there were an estimated 770,000 care worker jobs, but this rose 13% to 870,000 by 2019-20.

Occupational therapist roles saw a 15% rise from 2,600 to 3,000 over the same time period.

‘Fewer staff to deal with increasing demand for care’


Susan Masters

Commenting on the report, RCN director of nursing, policy and practice Susan Masters said: ‘This report shows the impossible strain nursing staff in the sector were under before COVID-19, and now there are fewer staff to deal with increasing demand for care.’

She added that without a long-term staffing strategy, health and social care services will be deprived of staff.

Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe described the drop in numbers as disappointing.

‘We’ll continue our work with partners across the UK to make sure nurses working in social care feel valued and recognised, and that nursing students are given opportunities throughout their education to see how rewarding a career in social care could be,’ she said.


Read the Skills for Care report

The size and structure of the adult social care sector and workforce in England, 2020


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