NHS staff numbers reach an all-time high

The UK Department of Health today released it's latest update on NHS staff numbers. It reflects the investment that the UK has been putting into the NHS in recent years, and also has an impact on outbound medical tourism from the UK. NHS shortcomings and waiting times are a significant driver of people seeking elective surgery abroad. In the last couple of years NHS waiting times have come down and there is now an 18 week target which most NHS trusts are meeting.

The number of people working for the NHS has reached an all-time high. After a dip in overall numbers in the previous two years, the annual NHS census showed staffing levels recovered to reach a peak of 1,368,200 in September 2008. This is a 2.8 per cent increase on the previous year and a 27.7 per cent increase compared to 1998.

In September 2008, the NHS employed:
  • 408,200 qualified nurses – up 2.1 per cent or 8,600 on 2007 and up 26.2 per cent or 84,700 on 1998.
  • 25,700 midwives – up 2.3 per cent or 570 on 2007 and up 12.4 per cent or 2,800 on 1998.
  • 34,900 consultants – up 3.7 per cent or 1,200 on 2007 and up 56.4 per cent or 12,600 on 1998.
  • 49,200 hospital doctors in training – an increase of 5.1 per cent or 2,400 on 2007 and up 59.4 per cent or 18,300 on 1998.

The number of people in employment in the UK was 31.32 million in December 2008 which means that 4.4% of the UK workforce is employed in the NHS.

The UK unemployment rate has now reached 6.5 per cent. So, the NHS is quite a good place to have a job!