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NHS workforce increases by 1.6 percent in a year

The total number of Full Time Equivalents (FTE) employed by the NHS increased by nearly 19,800 between March 2017 and March 2018, new figures3 from NHS Digital show.

*Regional information is available for this report.
*All figures are in Full Time Equivalent2.

Download the infographic: NHS workforce infographic

Headcount information is also available.The total number of Full Time Equivalents (FTE) employed by the NHS increased by nearly 19,800 between March 2017 and March 2018, new figures3 from NHS Digital show.

A total of 1,230,000 FTEs were employed by the health service across NHS Trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), NHS support organisations4 and central bodies in England as well as in General Practice.

The figures show that on 31 March 2018:

  • There was a total of 143,000 FTE Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS) and General Practice doctors employed in the NHS, up from 140,000 on the previous year

    The HCHS data shows:
  • The number of FTE nurses & health visitors (excluding Practice nurses) fell by 148 to 286,000 between 2018 and 20175
  • The number of FTE midwives increased from 21,600 to 21,800  
  • The number of FTE clinical support workers increased by 5,020 to 318,000 in 2018 from 313,000 in 2017
  • The number of FTE staff employed in NHS infrastructure support roles6 increased to 168,000 in 2018 from 164,000 in 2017. 

The report also shows that the NHS employed 10,200 FTE senior managers, up from 10,000 in 2017, as well as employing 22,400 FTE managers, an increase of 1,220 on 2017.

In primary care the figures show:

  • The number of doctors working in general practices fell to 33,700 FTE in 2018 from 33,900 FTE in 2017
  • The number of nurses in general practices increased to 15,900 FTE in 2018 from 15,500 FTE in 2017

The data also shows that the number of healthcare workers in the independent sector7 stood at 46,400 in March 2018.

Also released today alongside the Healthcare Workforce Statistics are detailed tables of the latest General and Personal Medical Services data, NHS Workforce Statistics and Independent Healthcare Provider Workforce Statistics.


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Read the full report:

Healthcare Workforce Statistics

Notes to editors

1. NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner of 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 2017/18 financial year, NHS Digital published 275 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.

2. 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.

3. 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 1,000. Figures over one million are rounded to the nearest 10,000. Percentages have been rounded to one decimal place.


4. NHS support organisations include a range of national and regional organisations set up by the Department of Health and Social Care to manage and support the functioning of the NHS and wider health and care system in England.


5. The exact change showed the number of FTE nurses & health visitors (excluding Practice nurses) fall to 285,745 from 285,893.


6. NHS infrastructure support includes central functions (e.g. personnel, finance, IT, legal services and library services); hotel, property and estates (e.g. laundry, catering, caretakers and domestic services, gardeners, builders, electricians); administrative managers and senior managers.


7. The data presented for the Independent Healthcare workforce does not represent the entire workforce employed across the whole of this sector and figures are therefore not comparable to previous years. These figures are based on organisations that provided data to NHS Digital or whose data could be extracted from the Electronic Staff Record (ESR).

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

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Last edited: 25 August 2020 2:41 pm