NHS staffing numbers

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  • Posted:Saturday 20 May 2017
NHS staffing numbers

Sources: NHS workforce statistics – January 2017, Provisional statistics, National Health Service Pay Review Body 30th report 2017

The NHS in England employs just over 1 million full-time equivalent (FTE) staff (not including those working in general practice). This number has been increasing at about 0.5 per cent on average per year over the past seven years.

Since 2010 there has been an increase in the number of staff in all groups except managers and backroom support staff.

The number of nursing staff has increased by 1.8 per cent from 281,064 FTEs in 2010 to 286,020 FTEs in 2017. Nursing numbers fell between 2011 and 2013, but have increased each year since then, although the rate of growth has slowed over the past two years. The increase in nursing numbers reflects the NHS response to various reports on the quality of patient care. Despite this increase, there is a shortage of nurses in the NHS. Health Education England has estimated a shortfall in nursing staff of approximately 8.9 per cent as of March 2015, and has projected that this could rise to 11.4 per cent by 2020.

The number of managers has decreased by more than 18 per cent over the past 7 years, from 38,297 FTEs in 2010 to 30,932 FTEs in 2017, although the number of posts has increased recently from a low of 27,025 FTEs in 2014. This follows the structural changes introduced by the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, alongside the coalition government’s target to reduce NHS administration costs by a third.

The number of scientific, technical and therapeutic staff has increased by 10 per cent from 120,382 FTEs in 2010 to 132,534 FTEs in 2017 and medical consultants by 26.2 per cent from 35,513 in 2010 to 44,832 FTEs in 2017.


Scientific, technical and therapeutic staff include physiotherapists, pharmacists, health care assistants and researchers, among others.

Data relates to position at the end of January in the relevant year – for example, data for 2017 sets out the position at the end of January 2017. Data has been reported for the period January 2010 to January 2017, based on data availability in the NHS Digital provisional statistics publication for January 2017.

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