Latest figures on the number of nurses and health visitors working in the NHS has highlightred the need for a commitment for training and retaining nurses from government, according a nursing union.
Figures released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show there were 281,474 nurses in September last year, an increase of 2,494 over the previous year.
Donna Kinnair, the director of nursing, policy and practice at the Royal College of Nursing said: “The number of nursing staff has seen one of the smallest proportional increases of any staff group in the NHS, despite their crucial role in patient care.”
She said the NHS cannot cope with increasing demands on its services without more nurses.
“Such a meagre increase in vital nursing staff is hard to understand against a backdrop of increasing patient demand and services under growing pressure.”
Kinnair said: “The government must commit to train and retain more nurses to ensure patients receive the care they deserve.”
It is the first year that the data has provided figures for the number of people who provide and commission patient care within NHS trusts and CCGs.
The snapshot shows that 1.01 million people were working for trusts and CCGs in September 2015, compared with 0.99 million in 2014.
They included NHS 158,000 infrastructure support staff.
Overall HSCIC said the number of staff working in the NHS had increased by 1.8% to 1.05 million since 2014.
In the independent sector there were 3,970 community health nurses, a drop of 94 nurses on the previous year.
There were also 951 health visitors in the independent sector in September last year, an increase of 94 in September 2015.