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Workforce census shows largest drop in NHS staff for 10 years

Fewer managerial/support staff but slightly more clinical staff, including GPs

Caroline White

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The number of staff working for the NHS fell by almost 20,000 last year, reveal figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre published today.

This represents the biggest fall in workforce numbers in a decade, with NHS managers taking the biggest hit. But the health service still employs considerably more staff than it did 10 years ago, the figures show.

The annual census of staff showed there were 1,350,377 people working for the NHS in England on 30 September 2011—a decrease of 1.4% on the same period in 2010.

But there are still 241,246 (21.8%) more people working for the NHS than there were a decade ago when staff numbers stood at 1,109,131. This equates to an average annual increase of 2% since 2001.

This year’s workforce census shows an increase in most clinical staff categories, including among GPs. But the numbers of hospital and community health service nurses fell by 3,411 (1%) in the year to September 2011.

The numbers of clinical support and infrastructure staff fell to 219,624, a decrease of 13,718 (5.9%) since 2010 but an increase of 39,841 (22.2%) since 2001 (an average annual increase of 2%). Provisional figures for December 2011 show a further decrease of 611 (0.3%) since September 2011.

Among this group, managers and senior managers took the biggest hit. Their numbers fell by almost 9% (3,748) to 38,214 in the year to September 2011. But numbers of managers and senior managers were still 10,790 (39.3%) higher than in 2001, equal to an average annual increase over the period of 3.4%.

Provisional figures for December 2011 showed numbers of managers and senior managers continued to fall after September 2011, with a further loss of 279 (0.7%).

Clinical support staff numbers fell to 347,064, a decrease of 9,346 (2.6%) since 2010 and an increase of 48,948 (16.4%) since 2001, but an average annual increase of 1.5%. Provisional figures for December 2011 showed a further decrease of 2,489 (0.7%) since September 2011.

The numbers of professionally qualified clinical staff rose 254 in the year to September 2011 to stand at 685,066. This is still 139,306 (25.5%) more than in 2001.

The proportion of hospital and community health service medical and dental staff rose by 1.7% over the past year to 105,711, representing an increase of 31,865 (43.2%) since 2001.

Of these, consultants numbers rose to 39,088, an increase of 1,336 (3.5%), adding up to 13,306 (51.6%) more senior doctors since 2001. Provisional figures for December 2011 show a further increase of 244 (0.6%) since September 2011.

Scientific, technical and therapeutic staff saw an increase of 609 (0.4%) to 152,216, representing a rise of 41,975 (38.1%) since 2001.

But the numbers of hospital and community health service qualified nurses fell by 3,411 (1.0) to 348,693. However, their numbers are still 16% higher than in 2001, and provisional figures for December 2011 show an increase of 931 (0.3%) since September 2011.

The numbers of GPs also increased by 371(0.9%) to just under 40,000 at 39,780. This represents an increase of 7,945 (25%) since 2001and an average annual increase of 2.3%.

There are now 35,319 FTE GPs and 41,467 contract/role GPs, representing a rise of 30% since 2001.

The figures show that the female GP headcount has risen 66% since 2001. While women made up just a third of the GP workforce at the start of the decade, they comprised 46% in 2011.

While the number of patients per practice has risen 15.6% to 6,651 since 2001, the number of patients per GP has actually fallen by 12.2% since then.

The full reports are available at www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/nhsworkforce

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