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Nursing numbers ‘plummet’ as workforce report details leaked

Nursing numbers ‘plummet’ as workforce report details leaked
By Jess Hacker
5 June 2023

The number of community and district nurses has fallen by nearly 50%, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) analysis shows, as reports suggest the long-awaited NHS workforce plan will be published in July.

According to new analysis of NHS England data, the number of district nurses has fallen by 46.9% since 2009, from 7,055 to 3,749, while the number of learning disability nurses has dropped from 5,553 to 3,045 (45%) over the same period.

The RCN criticised the Government’s failure to deliver its workforce plan, but warned the missing report ‘won’t be the end of the story’, adding that many people will ‘continue to go without’ care without immediate action.

Pat Cullen, RCN general secretary, said: ‘Some of the most vulnerable are stuck in hospital, partly because of under-investment in social care and more than a decade of declining community nursing numbers. The knock-on effect in hospitals is disturbing, with four-hour plus waiting times increasing 16-fold between 2011 and 2022.’

The RCN also criticised health Secretary Steve Barclay, flagging that he has been unable to confirm when the plan will be published.

But a report in The Times indicates the new plan will come on 5 July, also marked as the NHS’ 75th anniversary.

The plan will reportedly see 24,000 nurses and midwives trained by 2030, 2,000 more trainee GPs and the number of medical school places doubled to 15,000 by 2028-29.

It is currently unknown if the anniversary will be marked by any other policy announcements.

The NHS has announced several celebrations, including a service for NHS staff, volunteers and partners at Westminster Abbey and parkrun on July 8 backed by tennis player Andy Murray.

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