Estimated increase of 10,000 qualifed nurses

New figures published by Health Minister, John Hutton, show that there are big increases in the numbers of doctors and nurses training and working in the NHS. Targets are being met and in many cases exceeded.

The recruitment figures show that for:

  • GPs: there is an increase of 529 in the three months leading to March, and an increase of 2,660 since September 1999. The NHS Plan (2000) target has been exceeded by 660.
  • Nurses: there is an estimated increase of qualifed nurses by 10,000 in the six months between September 2003 and March 2004. The target of 35,000 more nurses by 2008 has been comfortably exceeded.
  • Consultants: there is an increase of 959 in the three months to March, an increase of 6,855 since September 1999. We expect the consultant target of 7,500 will be met later this year. There have been compensating increases in other specialist numbers, there are now 470 nurse consultants and 1,300 GPs with Special Interests.

The latest training figures show that NHS Plan training targets have been exceeded for:

  • Nurses: The target was 5,500 more nurses and midwives to be entering training each year by 2004. Last year  24,284 students started nursing and midwifery training, an increase of 5,577 over 1999. 
  • Therapists and Scientists: The target was 4,450 more therapists and other key professional staff entering training each year by 2004. Last year 10,852 students entered training, an increase of 5,320 over 1999.

The fight against the big killers, cancer and heart disease, also continues. Today's figures show that for:

  • Cardiologists: there are now 692 cardiologists, exceeding the target of 685 by 7 cardiologists.  The numbers of cardiologists had increased from 467 (1999/2000) to 692, representing an increase of 48%.
  • Cardiothoracic surgeons; there are 238 cardiothoracic surgeons, exceeding the target of 217 by 21 cardiothoracic surgeons.  The number of cardiothoracic surgeons had increased from 182 (1999/2000) to 238, representing an increase of 31%.
  • Cancer specialists: there are now 4,332 cancer specialists. We are well on course to achieve the cancer plan target of  1,000 additional cancer specialists by 2006.

The figures are the latest results from two mini censuses of the NHS workforce, which together show the numbers of NHS staff at 31 March 2004.

John Hutton said:

"These results show that we have more doctors and nurses than ever before and that we are shaping a NHS workforce fit for the future.

"Recruitment and retention measures are working and increased investment in training is succeeding too.

"I am delighted that we have met NHS Plan targets for the numbers of nurses, therapists and other key professional staff in training.

"We haven't achieved the consultant target yet  - but there are well over six thousand more consultants than in 1999 and we expect to meet our target later this year.

"All of these developments contribute to a big overall improvement in the NHS. Increased funding, more staff, new ways of working, shorter waiting times and reductions in deaths from heart disease and cancer. We are meeting these challenges head on  - but I know there is more work to do."

The latest NHS vacancy figures also show improvements:

  • Nurse vacancies are down for the fourth year running and now stand at 2.6%
  • Consultant vacancies are down from 4.7% in March 2003 to 4.4% at March 2004
  • AHP vacancies are down from 4.8% in March 2003 to 4.3% in March 2004. This includes the 3 month vacancy rate for radiographers in March 2004 was 5.4 percent, a marked decrease on the rate of 6.7% recorded in March 2003.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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