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Publication, Part of

NHS Vacancy Statistics England, April 2015 - March 2023, Experimental Statistics

Experimental statistics, Official statistics

Page contents

Data Quality

NHS England seeks to minimise inaccuracies and the effect of missing and invalid data but responsibility for data accuracy lies with the organisations providing the data. Methods are continually being updated to improve data quality.

For more detailed information relating to data quality, please refer to the Data Quality Annex which accompanies this publication.


The statistics based upon NHS Jobs, ESR and Trac data are experimental. They are provided as an indication of the potential of the data available and as a guide to the number of published vacancies advertised and other related information. However, they should be treated with caution, particularly with respect to what they actually refer to and their interpretation. Continued improvements within the completion of the source data and the processing carried out by NHS England increases confidence in the accuracy of the data. The increased consistent time series now makes internal comparisons possible and therefore increasing the scope for relative comparisons within the series to be undertaken.

Consideration will be given to removing the experimental label for future publications.

The NHSE data relates specifically to vacancies reported for individual NHS Trusts and provides associated vacancy rates. As with any directly collected data there are potential issues with respect to interpretation and application of guidance which may impact upon the data quality of the information published. NHSE have taken a range of steps to ensure consistency and accuracy are maintained in the data as far as possible, but users are advised to consider this when interpreting this data.

Comparability and Coherence

The figures included in this publication are not directly comparable to the first two publications in the NHS Vacancy Statistics series. The first publication differs in that the original methodology for NHS Jobs data was a count of the number of adverts published, whereas all subsequent publications have used advertised FTE information provided by NHS Jobs relating to published adverts. Revised organisational information after the second publication made it non-comparable to future publications, but all more recent publications are directly comparable and include the full time series of comparable base data available from NHS Jobs.

Despite these further enhancements it still remains difficult to link figures in this publication to other workforce publications by NHS Digital/NHS England due to differences in data source, methodology and coverage. The inclusion of vacancy related data extracted from ESR and data provided by Trac is intended to be part of the process to attempt to bridge this gap. This publication aims to help establish a set of statistics which will become an accepted standard.

Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was considerable disruption to recruitment activity within the NHS. This was apparent from the lower reported advertised vacancies between March and June 2020 as the NHS was fully focused on dealing with the first wave of the pandemic. Whilst pressures of the pandemic eased somewhat during the summer of 2020, it is still apparent from the data that recruitment activity for the NHS remains disrupted. However, we believe that the headline figures included in the bulletin remain of immediate use, as they represent the situation as it was at the time.

Timeliness and Punctuality

NHS England will continue to work with each of the 4 data suppliers to ensure that the timeliness and punctuality of the statistics are maximised. The frequency of the publication will remain on a quarterly basis, published approximately 2 months in arrears - linked to data availability.


The feedback function of this publication is to allow all users to understand the data, to provide input into our understanding of the underlying data sources and to determine what useful statistics should be produced from it in the future.


The statistics included in this series aim to answer some of the frequent requests for information relating to recruitment in the NHS.

The content of this publication series is regularly reviewed and updated where appropriate in response to feedback received. These changes should increase the relevance of the series to users.

These statistics are not directly comparable to other current NHS Digital/NHS England publications relating to the NHS Workforce. For example, it is not currently possible to calculate vacancy rates for the proxy vacancy sources it includes using published staff in post data, although one of the aims is to make vacancy data more comparable with standard workforce information in future.

Performance Cost and Respondent Burden

The availability of NHS Jobs data was part of the enhancement of NHS Jobs service envisioned by the DHSC to provide a proxy for vacancy information from administrative data to avoid any burden on the NHS. Several of the responses to the consultation included in the first NHS Vacancy Statistics publication proposed that a direct data collection should be reinstated in order to gain access to the level of data required to supplement the information available from NHS Jobs. If such an approach were taken, full consideration would be given to minimising the burden of the additional data collection and focusing on the information which is available to and needed by those organisations involved in healthcare workforce recruitment. The data used within the compendium publication from ESR and Trac are extracted by/supplied to NHS England with no additional burden placed on end users. Data from NHSE is collected directly from providers as part of their monthly workforce data collection.

Confidentiality, Transparency and Security

The standard NHS Digital data security and confidentiality policies have been applied in the production of these statistics, though the information upon which they are based relates to published vacancy adverts for NHS Jobs and Trac and to vacant posts created within ESR, not to individual applicants or staff members and therefore no identifiable data has been used in the production of these statistics. This also applies to the NHSE collected data.

Revisions and Issues

As expected with experimental statistics, some figures may be revised as issues are uncovered and resolved. Details of revisions and issues are included in the Data Quality Annex which accompanies this publication.

Last edited: 25 May 2023 9:31 am