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Publication, Part of

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

Experimental statistics, Official statistics

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Data Sources

The NHS Vacancy Statistics compendium publication contains data from: NHSE; NHS Jobs; ESR and Trac. Data for all sources have been provided at a high-level by NHS England region on a monthly/quarterly basis.

NHS England

NHSE collect and previously published vacancy related data which can be found as part of the Quarterly performance of the NHS provider sector publication series. The last data published (2018/19 Q4) can be found via the following link:

This data represents management information only and is not an official statistic.

Provider vacancies and vacancy rates are published at an aggregate national, regional and sector level from 2017/18 Q1 to provide detailed understanding of where variation exists across regions and healthcare sectors.

NHSE collect this data directly as part of their monthly workforce data collection. The quarterly vacancy figures provided are based on the number of vacancies at the end of the respective quarter i.e. 2017/18 Q1 would be reported vacancies at the end of June 2017.

The latest technical guidance available to trusts can be found via the following link:

The guidance provided is that only active vacancies at the end of the reporting month are included in the collection, however, it is not possible to identify how long the respective vacancy has been live, or how many new vacancies have gone live within the month. The aim of this data is to understand the current workforce gap rather than any other vacancy related measure i.e. average length of vacancy or vacancies advertised per month.

It is possible for organisations to amend their data within the financial year to reflect any data quality improvements within their systems. Under normal circumstances data is therefore finalised for the financial year as at quarter 4 (end of March). There may be exceptional circumstances when data is updated for a previous financial year, therefore the latest publication in the series should always be referred to for the most up to date data.

As an exception, due to one organisation making a late submission for 2018/19 Q4 data, there was a small change in vacancy related data for this quarter.

A small number of organisations have changed sector within the 2020/21 financial year. This has been reflected in the data published and users are always advised to refer to the latest publication for the most up to date data.

For each quarter, a small number of organisations may not have submitted data in time for inclusion in the initial publication. In such cases, where data are available for the previous monthly submission, this has been included as a proxy. Should data subsequently be made available, the data for the relevant quarter(s) is updated in subsequent publications. As such, users are always advised to refer to the latest publication. This is the standard methodology for missing monthly submissions in the NHSE data.

Due to the national changes in the structure of NHSE and their regional and local reporting, data for 2019/20 Q1 onwards has been presented on the basis of the seven regional teams, whilst data for previous quarters remains aligned to the four commissioning regions which existed at the time.

Nursing and Medical staff groups are based on relevant Occupation Codes in groupings defined by NHSE.

NHSE data is not directly comparable to the other data included in this compendium publication because of differences in methodology and definition. It is recommended that different data sources are considered when drawing conclusions from vacancy related data as they each have different strengths and weaknesses – for example the NHS Jobs data should be considered a minimum figure for the actual number of vacancies advertised at any time, whilst the NHSE data relates specifically to vacancies reported for individual NHS Trusts and provides associated vacancy rates; it is only available at a high geographical level for a limited number of staff groups. 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.

NHS Jobs

Data from NHS Jobs have been included in this series since its first release in 2015. These statistics are created from administrative data related to job advertisements published on NHS Jobs, the main recruitment website for the NHS.

The time series included for NHS Jobs data begins at April 2015 (February 2015 and March 2015 data are available in previous publications and on request), allowing users to consider relative changes over time.

Data is provided for NHS Trusts, CCGs, Support Organisations and Central Bodies in England. Job advertisements can also be placed by NHS sub-contractors and local authorities so not all adverts will be for jobs in the NHS, although NHS Digital attempted to allow for this in their processing and constrain the adverts to those related to NHS organisations.

A job advertisement can be used to fill one vacancy, multiple vacancies, or an ongoing recruitment programme and so it is not possible to accurately state the number of vacancies in a period. Therefore, the only accurate statement remains that the number of advertised FTE shows the minimum number of vacancies advertised.

This information remains a proxy data source for NHS vacancies. These statistics are exploratory and provide information on the administrative data available from NHS Jobs relating to published vacancy adverts as much as on the recruitment of staff.


ESR is a payroll and human resources system which, since April 2008, has contained staff records for over 99% of the directly employed NHS staff in England. ESR is designed to support the entire HR process, including recruitment; thus, data related to vacancies may also be captured within ESR.

The time series for ESR vacancy data included in this publication begins at 1 April 2016.

Data is provided for NHS Trusts, CCGs, Support Organisations and Central Bodies in England.

These statistics explore data extracted directly from ESR for opened vacant posts. As one opened vacant post can be used to fill multiple vacancies it is not possible to accurately state the number of vacancies within a specified period. Therefore, the only accurate statement remains that the number of created vacancy full-time equivalents shows the minimum number of vacancies. It is not possible to state the precise level of undercounting, but it is possible to say that it will vary for different staff groups – for example the undercount for nurses is likely to be greater than for other staff groups because of a number of issues including the high-level of rolling vacancies linked to generic posts within ESR used for that staff group. This information remains a proxy data source for NHS vacancies.


Trac is a provider of application management software to the NHS.

Over 180 organisations use the Trac recruitment system provided by Civica UK Ltd. in combination with ESR and NHS Jobs to administer their recruitment process. Trac manages the process from vacancy authorisation through to the candidates' start date and induction. As the data within the system sits between ESR and NHS Jobs, employers using Trac can provide consent to supply this administrative data automatically to NHS England. This information is a proxy data source for NHS vacancies.

Data is provided for NHS Trusts, CCGs, Support Organisations and Central Bodies in England.

The inclusion of this data further enhances the compendium nature of the publication and will be particularly relevant to increasing the completeness of the applicant behaviour related information, the current gaps in completion of this information in NHS Jobs directly are highlighted in previous publications. It is hoped that this development may then allow more to be made of this important aspect of the publication and may help to give some insight into the questions raised about hard to fill vacancies, for example.


Last edited: 25 May 2023 9:31 am