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Report shows change in NHS workforce over time

*Regional information is available for this report.
*All figures are in Full Time Equivalent. Headcount information is also available.
*NHS Digital must be quoted as the source of these figures.

29 March 2017: The number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE)3 staff working for the NHS in England has increased by 2.2 per cent (26,000) since 2015, NHS Digital figures released today show.

The report, Healthcare Workforce Statistics England, September 2016, Provisional Experimental, shows that at 30 September, 2016, there were 1.20 million FTE staff working for the NHS in England, compared to 1.17 million at the same point in 2015.

This snapshot comprises Hospital and Community Health Service staff working in NHS Trusts, CCGs4, NHS support organisations, and central bodies in England, along with staff working in General Practice. Of these staff the number of professionally qualified clinical staff6was 612,000 FTE, an increase of 1.6 per cent (9,460) since 2015.

Today's figures also show that at 30 September, 2016, for staff working for NHS Trusts and CCGs7,8 there were 1.04 million staff compared to 1.01 million at the same point in 2015. Of these staff:

  •  There were 51,600 FTE hospital doctors in training9, an increase of 0.5 per cent (267) since 2015
  •  Consultant numbers stood at 44,300 FTE, an increase of 3.3 per cent (1,430) since 2015
  •  Nurses and health visitors, excluding GP practice nurses, stood at 284,000 FTE, an increase of 1.0 per cent (2,810) since 2015
  •  There were 21,000 FTE midwives, an increase of 0.5 per cent (104) since 2015
  •  There were 309,000 FTE staff who provide support to clinical staff10, an increase of 3.2 per cent (9,700) since 2015
  •  NHS infrastructure support staff11 stood at 162,000 FTE, an increase of 2.3 per cent (3,640) on 2015. Of this group:
  1. Managers stood at 21,000 FTE, an increase of 3.4 per cent (696) on 2015
  2. Senior managers stood at 9,610 FTE, an increase of 3.7 per cent (347) on 2015

Today's publication also reports on all staff providing services in General Practice, at the time of the collection.

These data have, in the last two years, been collected directly from GP practices; previously they were collected from census collections. This development has increased the accuracy of the data, but the change means that it is only possible to compare the overall number of GPs from 2015 to 2016.12

Figures on General Practice, at 30 September, 2016, show:

  •  There were 34,500 FTE GPs, a decrease of 0.3 per cent (96) on September 2015
  •  There were 15,800 FTE nurses in GP practices, an increase of 2.8 per cent (429) on September 2015
  •  GP Direct Patient Care and admin staff numbers stood at 75,300 FTE, an increase of 3.4 per cent (2,470) on September 2015

Figures on some of the independent sector healthcare workforce providing NHS-commissioned services are also included in today's report.

The total number of FTE staff working in the independent healthcare workforce at 30 September 2016 was 40,800, based on those organisations that provided data to NHS Digital or whose data could be extracted from the ESR.5

A table providing nationality data for the independent sector is included in this report for the first time.

More recent data for the NHS workforce has also been published today, which relates to December 2016, and includes experimental statistics on bank staff13, published for the first time.


Other workforce reports released today, separate to this publication are:

Notes to editors

1. NHS Digital is the national information and technology provider for the health and care system. Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend. During the 2015/16 financial year, NHS Digital published 294 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better. NHS Digital is the new trading name for the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). We provide 'Information and Technology for better health and care'. Find out more about our role and remit at

2. Counts of figures under 1,000 are exact and figures over 1,000, but less than 10,000 have been rounded to the nearest 10. Figures over 10,000 but less than 100,000 have been rounded to the nearest 100. Figures over 100,000, but less than one million have been rounded to the nearest 1000. Figures over one million are rounded to the nearest 10,000. Percentages have been rounded to one decimal place.

3. Full Time Equivalent (FTE) measures an individual's working hours as a proportion of their standard full time contract. This means that a person who worked 3.75 hours of a 37.5 hour contract would count as 0.1 FTE and somebody who worked 37.5 hours would count as 1.0 FTE. FTE is based on each individual's contract, which means that full time hours will vary.

4. Previously Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) when they existed within the Electronic Staff Record (ESR).

5. Please note that this figure does not reflect the entire independent sector healthcare workforce.

6. Professionally qualified clinical staff includes: Total Doctors, Nurses & Health Visitors, Midwives, Ambulance staff, Scientific, Therapeutic & Technical staff and qualified GP practice staff.

7. Between Septembers 2012 and 2013, the Health and Social Care Act reforms were enacted. These created a range of new organisations, disbanded other organisations and transferred certain functions between organisations. Certain staff previously not working in the NHS, for example for groups of staff working for Department of Health, were transferred to NHS organisations. This would lead to an increase in the Central Bodies and Support to NHS table. Certain staff working in Primary Care Trusts were transferred to work in central NHS organisations. This would lead to an apparent increase in staff working in Central Bodies and Support to NHS and a corresponding decrease in staff working in NHS Trusts and CCGs.

8. Between Septembers 2009 and 2012, a number of new independent organisations were set up as a result of the Transforming Community Services and Any Qualified Provider initiatives. These took on some functions previously delivered by staff directly employed by NHS Trusts and PCTs and led to a decrease in certain staff groups (such as nurses and support to clinical staff) in the NHS Trusts and CCGs table and an increase for these groups in the Independent Sector historic table. This Independent Sector historic table includes only those organisations that used the Electronic Staff Record. Since 2015, NHS Digital has been collecting and publishing workforce information from Independent Sector organisations that do not use the Electronic Staff Record, so progressively more independent sector organisations will have their workforce information included in the figures.

9. Hospital doctors in training include: Speciality Registrars; Core Medical Training; Core Dental Training; Foundation Doctor Year 2; and Foundation Doctor Year 1.

10. Support to clinical staff includes the following sub groups: Support to doctors, nurses & midwives, Support to scientific, therapeutic & technical staff and Support to ambulance staff.

11. NHS infrastructure support includes the following sub groups: Central functions, Hotel, property & estates, Senior Managers and Managers.

12. Previously collected FTE data are not comparable, so overall GP FTE figures are only comparable for 2016 and 2015.

13. Bank staff are those staff paid through ESR who do not have a contracted FTE, but have received payment for activity.

14. For media enquiries please contact or telephone 0300 30 33 888.


Last edited: 7 September 2020 11:32 am