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RCN disputes government claim to be on target for 50,000 more nurses in the NHS

Data shows rise of 14,813 nurses on last year, but also 36,655 full-time-equivalent nursing vacancies

NHS Digital Data shows rise of 14,813 nurses in England's NHS on last year, but also 36,655 full-time-equivalent nursing vacancies

There are 14,813 more nurses in England's NHS than last year but the number of nursing posts unfilled remains high, new data shows.

NHS Digital data recorded a total of 295,412 nurses in Englands NHS as of August 2020 , 14,813 more than the same time in 2019.

Health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock lauded the new nurses figure as proof the government was sticking to its promises on the nursing workforce made during the election.

We are well on our way to deliver on our manifesto commitment of 50,000 more nurses in the NHS, he said.

NHS Digital Data shows rise of 14,813 nurses in England's NHS on last year, but also 36,655 full-time-equivalent nursing vacancies

Nurses with masks and visors working
Picture: PA

There are 14,813 more nurses in England's NHS than last year but the number of nursing posts unfilled remains high, new data shows.

NHS Digital data recorded a total of 295,412 nurses in England’s NHS as of August 2020, 14,813 more than the same time in 2019.

Health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock lauded the new nurses figure as proof the government was sticking to its promises on the nursing workforce made during the election.

‘We are well on our way to deliver on our manifesto commitment of 50,000 more nurses in the NHS,’ he said.

Nurse vacancy rate is too high for government to claim success, says RCN

A different set of NHS data recorded that there were 36,655 full-time-equivalent (FTE) nursing vacancies in England’s NHS as of September 2020.

The government highlighted how the September nurse vacancy rate was 15% lower than the same period in 2019.

RCN director for England Mike Adams
Mike Adams

But RCN director for England Mike Adams countered that the vacancy rate, which is the gap between the number of FTE nurses in post and planned workforce levels, is too high for the government to claim success.

‘The government continues to say it is on course to meet the target of 50,000 more nurses, but these figures show that the vacancy rate for the planned nursing workforce remains stubbornly high,’ he said.

Highlighting the recent government decision to deny nurses an early pay rise, Mr Adams said this must be addressed to improve recruitment.

‘Ministers must get nursing recruitment back on track by paying nursing staff the wages they deserve,’ he said.


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