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UK needs nearly 50k more nurses to meet OECD average

The UK needs a minimum of 47,700 more nurses just to meet the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average, it was revealed this morning at the launch of Health at a Glance 2015 report in London.

The OECD was founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade, and the organisation currently has 34 member countries including Italy, France, Germany, the USA and Canada.

In order to meet the OECD average of nurses, there must be 47,700 to 50,000 more NHS nurses, and with the average nurse costing £35-£40,000 annually (in terms of a salary and pension, and including both primary and secondary care)  this would mean an additional £1.66 billion spend annually.

Speaking at the launch of the report in Westminster this morning, Mark Pearson, OECD deputy director of employment, labour and social affairs (pictured), said: “We have about 8.2 nurses per 1,000 population, compared to the OECD average of 9.1. So there certainly is an issue about how many resources are in the health system.”

Similarly, the report revealed a lack of 26,500 more doctors, which is necessary just to meet the OECD average. The cost of this would be an additional £2.4 to £2.6 billion annually, as the average doctor costs £100,000 annually in terms of a salary and pension, the Nuffield Trust, who took part in the report, said.

Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust added: “It's very difficult to get the basics right if the entire managerial system is pointed upwards and we don't have enough staff.”