Statistics from the NHS Information Centre have today revealed that nursing numbers have fallen over the past two years.
NHS workforce statistics show that there were 4,661 fewer qualified nurses, midwives and health visitors in April 2012 than there were two years earlier, a total drop of 0.2%.
Numbers of health visitors and school nurses alone have increased over the same period however, with a rise of 2.1% and 2.4% respectively, thanks in part to an NHS initiative to increase numbers.
During this time, the number of qualified doctors rose by 3,258, from 104,538 in April 2009 to 107,796 in April 2012.
RCN Executive Director of Nursing and Service Delivery, Janet Davies, said of the drop: “The Government has laid bare the effects of its own austerity drive in the NHS. Despite our repeated warnings, the pressure to save £20 billion in the NHS in England is resulting in cuts to jobs, hitting the frontline hard.
"You can’t lose more than 4500 nurses, midwives and health visitors without seriously damaging patient care.
“Despite Government rhetoric, these cuts are real and have been ongoing for some time. The RCN will continue to identify where posts are under threat, and will work both nationally and locally to oppose short sighted cuts that damage patient care.”