The number of nurses and health visitors working for the NHS in England has seen a decrease of nearly 2%, according to the latest Government figures.
NHS Digital said that the number had dropped by 415 in the year since March 2016.
There were 22,737 nurses working in general practice – a reduction of 1.8% on the same time last year. The figure included 15,528 full time equivalent nurses, where there was a drop of 225 staff, or 1.4%, over the year to March.
Overall the NHS had 319,845 nurses and health visitors – an increase of just 0.3%, or 1,741 people since March 2016. This included 285,893 full time equivalent employees, which had gone up by 506 since March last year. By May 2017 this had dropped to 283,624 full time equivalent workers.
In community nursing the figures showed a slight drop, from 36,213 in March last year, to 35,442 at the same time this year. The latest available figures in May showed a drop to 35,192.
Meanwhile, the number of bank nurses and health visitors had also gone up nationally from 47,546 in March 2016 to 52,901 this March, according to NHS records.
NHS Digital also released headline figures, with nurses and health visitors at 27%, making up the largest group of professionally qualified NHS workers.
The latest workforce figures, released today, come days after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted: ‘NHS under Cons has seen more money, more docs and more nurses than ever in history.’
He was responding to physicist Stephen Hawking’s fears for the future of the NHS. The renowned professor, who has significant experience of NHS services since his diagnosis of motor neurone disease, aged 21, said he was fearful about the future of the health service.