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Nurse numbers fall but senior managers increase, NHS Digital figures show

The number of nurses and health visitors in England has fallen, while senior managerial staff have increased, according to figures from NHS Digital
Nurse numbers

The number of nurses and health visitors in England has fallen, while senior managerial staff have increased, according to figures from NHS Digital.

It said there were 284,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) nurses and health visitors as of 30 September 2017, a fall of 0.2% or 435 posts since 2016. The figure excludes nurses who work in GP practices.

In contrast, there was a 7% increase in senior managers, rising 676 to 10,300 FTE posts. Consultant numbers rose by 3.4% or 1,490 to 45,800 from a year earlier.

Overall, there were 1.05 million staff working for NHS Trusts and clinical commissioning groups, compared with 1.04 million on the same date in 2016.

Easy target

Responding to the figures, RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘It feels to front-line nursing staff that, in a cash-strapped NHS, they have become an easy

The number of nurses and health visitors in England has fallen, while senior managerial staff have increased, according to figures from NHS Digital.


Picture: iStock

It said there were 284,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) nurses and health visitors as of 30 September 2017, a fall of 0.2% or 435 posts since 2016. The figure excludes nurses who work in GP practices.

In contrast, there was a 7% increase in senior managers, rising 676 to 10,300 FTE posts. Consultant numbers rose by 3.4% or 1,490 to 45,800 from a year earlier.

Overall, there were 1.05 million staff working for NHS Trusts and clinical commissioning groups, compared with 1.04 million on the same date in 2016.

Easy target

Responding to the figures, RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘It feels to front-line nursing staff that, in a cash-strapped NHS, they have become an easy target for cuts. It will be galling when they see senior management burgeoning too – now officially the fastest-growing part of the NHS.’

She added: ‘Against a backdrop of modest boosts to medical professions – in a bid to keep pace with soaring demand – nursing is shrinking. All the while, nurses are responsible for the vast majority of hands-on patient care.

‘Standards rise and fall with the number of nurses. For as long as there are 40,000 nurse vacancies in England alone, elements of patient care will inevitably continue to go undone.’

Ms Davies called on ministers to drop plans to remove funding from postgraduate nursing students and instead introduce grants to boost student numbers.

She added: ‘Current staff must be recognised with a meaningful pay rise this year. But only by setting safe and effective staffing levels in legislation, in every part of the UK, can standards of patient care rise significantly.’


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