The Government has come under fire for not being “transparent” on how this figure is calculated.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has questioned claims that the Government is “halfway” to delivering 50,000 more nurses by 2024.
In a press release yesterday, the Department of Health and Social Care claimed there are 27,000 more nurses now working across the NHS.
However, it has come under fire for not being “transparent” on how this figure is calculated.
A progress report published today shows that overall total nurse numbers now stand at 327,907, as of December 2021, compared to 300,904 in September 2019. By March 2024, there are set to be around 351,000 full-time equivalent nurses.
It is unclear if this figure is inflated by including nurses who have temporarily returned to practice during the pandemic or retired nurses working additional hours due to the temporary easing of pension abatement rules.
The Government says the figure has risen because it has focused on retaining nurses.
A need for transparency.
Royal College of Nursing General Secretary and Chief Executive, Pat Cullen, said: “The number of unfilled nurse jobs has risen in the last year, not fallen. This workforce crisis – tens of thousands of vacant posts – is hitting patient care and adds to waiting lists and treatment delays.
“Without transparent publication of workforce data, nursing staff will question these claims. They do not match their day to day experience trying to provide safe and effective care with a significantly depleted workforce.
“The Government has not been transparent about how it calculates the numbers genuinely needed for safe and effective care. Independent health policy experts share our concerns about the workforce not growing at the scale and pace needed for health and care services. This is a political target in the absence of a proper health and care workforce strategy.
“Experienced nursing staff who stayed in the profession during the pandemic are now leaving in greater numbers. One of the simplest ways to keep more staff is a fair pay rise that recognises their professional skill.”
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