The NHS has lost more than 5,000 nurses in just three years, official figures show. Data for May this year reveals that there were 348,311 qualified staff working in nursing, midwifery and health visiting, down 5,601 on the figure of 353,912 in May 2010.
The numbers of midwives, health visitors and school nurses have risen over the period, meaning the drop is attributable to lost nursing posts. There were 307,634 nurses, midwives and health visitors working the equivalent of full time in May, down on the 310,793 in May 2010. The number of doctors working in the NHS has risen slightly, as has the number of ambulance staff.
The data was released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre. Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “Report after report has warned David Cameron of the central importance of nurse numbers in providing safe care. But these cuts... show he is ignoring these warnings and allowing hospitals across England to operate without safe staffing levels.”
Health Minister Norman Lamb said: “Hospitals themselves must decide how many and which staff they employ and must publish evidence to show that numbers are right for the needs of the patients that they look after.”