NHS staff level rises celebrated

The numbers of doctors and nurses working in the health service in England has gone up compared to 12 months previously, new NHS Digital figures show.
NHS employment of doctors and nurses has risen over a 12-month periodNHS employment of doctors and nurses has risen over a 12-month period
NHS employment of doctors and nurses has risen over a 12-month period

Statistics revealed that up until the end of May 2020 there were the equivalent of 302,293 full-time nurses and health visitors.

This is a rise of 13,442, or 4.7 per cent, from the May 2019 figure.

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Similarly, at the end of May there were the equivalent of an extra 121,256 full-time doctors, an increase of 9,306 or 8.3 per cent on the figure 12 months earlier.

All professionally qualified clinical staff, doctors, paramedics and support to clinical staff are now at record levels, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) says.

Following last week's A Level results, the latest UCAS statistics revealed a 14 per cent rise in acceptances for nursing and midwifery courses in England, with many more students expected to take up places on courses during the clearing process.

Health and Social Care secretary Matt Hancock 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.

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"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 per cent 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.”

Last month the NHS People Plan set out proposals aiming to put staff wellbeing at its heart with a new recruitment, retention and support package, support measures such as safe spaces to rest and recuperate, wellbeing guardians and extra help to keep staff physically safe and healthy.

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The figures for May include some former healthcare professionals who volunteered to return to the front line during the coronavirus pandemic.

The May data shows that 592 returners were identified, of which there were 102 doctors and 157 nurses and health visitors.

Not all of these were included in the monthly workforce stats as they could have been employed on fixed term, honorary or bank contracts, or via NHS Professionals, the DHSC said.

In terms of actual headcount there was a 7.9 per cent rise in the number of doctors employed between May 2019 and May 2020 and a 4.4 per cent increase among nurses and health visitors.

The May 2020 statistics showed a headcount of 128,962 doctors and 338,256 nurses and health visitors.