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NHS nurse numbers continue rising with 13,840 more than last year

New statistics show that the number of nurses in the NHS is now at a record level, as numbers increase by 13,840 compared to 2019.

The number of nurses in the NHS in England increased by 13,840 compared to last year, and the number of doctors has risen by 9,306, figures published yesterday up until the end of May show.

All professionally qualified clinical staff, doctors, paramedics and support to clinical staff are now at record levels.

Responding to the NHS workforce statistics, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday said:   

It is fantastic to see we have record numbers of staff working in our NHS, and as set out last month in the NHS People Plan, we must strive to make the NHS the best possible place to work for all. This will help us retain more of our hardworking staff and ensure the NHS can continue to protect us, as we protected it throughout the peak of this pandemic.

With the latest UCAS figures already showing a 14% rise in people accepting places on nursing courses in England, we are well on our way to delivering 50,000 more nurses by the end of this Parliament.

We have protected the NHS, and we are investing record sums into the NHS, hiring more doctors and nurses so that the NHS is always there for you and your family.

Following A Level results last week, the latest UCAS statics revealed a 14% rise in acceptances for nursing and midwifery courses in England, with many more expected during clearing.

Last month the NHS People Plan set out how the NHS will put staff wellbeing at its heart with a new recruitment, retention and support package. It sets out practical support for wellbeing, such as:

  • safe spaces to rest and recuperate
  • wellbeing guardians
  • support to keep staff physically safe and healthy

The figures for May include some former healthcare professionals who bravely volunteered to return to the frontline during the pandemic. May figures also show that 592 returners were identified, of which there are 102 doctors and 157 nurses and health visitors. Not all returners are reflected in the monthly workforce stats as they could have been employed on fixed term, honorary or bank contracts, or via NHS Professionals.

Background information

NHS Digital yesterday published its monthly NHS workforce data for May 2020

Over the last year (May 2019 to May 2020) the number of nurses has gone up by 13,840, from 281,781 to 295,620.

Over the last year (May 2019 to 2020) the number of doctors has gone up by 9,306, from 111,950 to 121,256.

Student nurses do not have full registration with the NMC, and so are counted as ‘support to clinical staff’. They are not included in the ‘nurses’ count. Medical students are on the same standing as Foundation 1 doctors, and so are counted as ‘doctors’ in the statistics.

NHS Professionals is an organisation in the United Kingdom that supplies temporary staff to the National Health Service.


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