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Publication, Part of

NHS Workforce Statistics - May 2021 (Including selected provisional statistics for June 2021)

Official statistics

Page contents

Data Quality

The following section outlines issues to consider around the data quality of the monthly HCHS workforce statistics publications.


Data Quality Annex

Accompanying each monthly report is a separate data quality document that highlights issues NHS Digital are aware of which may have an impact on the data contained in the monthly HCHS workforce statistics publications.



As expected with monthly statistics, some figures may be revised as issues are uncovered and resolved. Data will not be revised where minor enhancements to the methodology or other data issues have an insignificant impact at a national level. However, revisions to published statistics may occur if a data issue is significant at a national level. When this occurs, it will be clearly documented in the publications.

NHS Digital 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.

A monthly data extract from ESR is put through several validation steps via the WoVEn data quality process. Specific issues are highlighted, and reports sent to each organisation informing them of their levels of data quality and any issues they can address. This has meant that more NHS Trusts are willing to update data to save future validation work. The aim is for this to become the norm within NHS organisations to ensure greater emphasis is placed on improving data validation at source.

Figures are an accurate summary of the data supplied and are further validated prior to publication following the steps highlighted in the Methodology statement section of this document. However, given the size of the NHS workforce, its changing composition, and the nature and timing of local data entry and checking processes; there will always remain some uncertainty as to the true position of the NHS workforce. 



The relevance of NHS workforce information is maintained by reference to working groups who oversee both data and reporting standards. Major changes are also subject to approval by an NHS-wide Standardisation Committee for Care Information (SCCI).

Significant changes to workforce publications (e.g. frequency or methodology) are subject to consultation, in line with recommendations of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.


2016 Consultation

These monthly NHS workforce statistics reflect the changes and developments following a consultation in March 2016. The consultation response can be found here.

Major changes following the consultation included:

  • Focussing this publication on staff in English NHS Trusts and CCGs
  • The quarterly publication of staff in NHS Support Organisations and Central Bodies in England
  • Data on staff in Social Enterprises and Community Interest Companies have moved to the NHS Digital Independent Healthcare Provider workforce publication
  • The removal of records that are not receiving earnings for activity, for example staff who hold contracts but are on maternity leave during the period covered by these statistics
  • The removal of some non-service contracts, for example Widow or Non-Executive Directors
  • The reclassification of some staff to different staff groups.


Comparability and Coherence

This is the latest publication of the monthly series of HCHS workforce statistics using data from the ESR. NHS Digital welcomes feedback on the methodology, plus the content and accuracy of tables within this publication. Data will only be revised if there is enough reason to do so. When this occurs, it will be clearly documented in the publications.


Timeliness and punctuality

The ESR data will be published within 3 months of the data time stamp. Following a public consultation on aligning publication dates, from June 2018 onwards publications will, where possible, be aligned on a specific topic with the intention of releasing most publications on a Thursday. More information is available here



The monthly publication consists of high-level HCHS NHS Trust and CCG staff in England at National, region and organisational level by major staff groups. Tables of headcount and FTE are available. Further detailed analyses may be available on request, subject to resource limits and compliance with disclosure control requirements.


Performance cost and respondent burden

These statistics use administrative data from ESR, which creates no additional burden on most trusts.


Confidentiality, Transparency and Security

The standard NHS Digital data security and confidentiality policies have been applied in the production of these statistics.


General issues for consideration

Non ESR Trusts

From March 2021 onwards, all NHS Trusts are now using the ESR system. Chesterfield Royal Hospital Foundation Trust is the last trust to adopt ESR and previously had been submitting manual returns. Until a sufficient period has elapsed, data for this Trust will be unsuitable for turnover statistics. There may also be some fluctuation within their data for several months as data cleansing is carried out at the Trust. Prior to November 2018 one other NHS Trust (Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) was not using ESR.

Transforming Community Services (TCS)

The changing nature of organisations that provide NHS services as part of Transforming Community Services (TCS) may impact on the overall totals as providers external to the NHS are excluded from the figures.

Staff who work at different locations

Some staff are on one Trust’s payroll but work within a different Trust. This should be reflected in the ESR system and is used for publishing purposes to show where staff carry out work. If Trusts do not record this, then the staff will be reflected as working at the employing organisation rather than the workplace organisation.

Definitions of Headcount and FTE

This section states the definitions used within this monthly publication. The methodology for the monthly publication will count a doctor who works across 2 hospitals, 0.2 of their time at Trust A and 0.8 of their time at Trust B, as shown in the table below:





Trust A



Trust B







  • Headcount refers to the total number of staff in either part time or full-time employment within an organisation or work setting. Subtotals such as by region or work setting are unlikely to add up to national figures because these would only count an individual once. It is possible for that individual to be working in two part time roles in more than one location or work setting. In this case they would appear once in each location or work setting.
  • Full time equivalent (FTE) is based on the proportion of time staff work in a role. FTE does not, therefore, measure the total hours in which work is carried out. For example, a doctor may be expected to work 48 hours in a week, which would be an FTE of 1. A nurse is usually expected to work 37.5 hours each week, this is also 1 FTE. In both cases they may work longer, and some staff may do overtime. That is not captured in the data used in this publication. Earnings statistics show pay for additional work.

Last edited: 25 August 2021 3:00 pm