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The nursing workforce: in numbers

Nicola Davies takes a look at how the strain placed on the nursing workforce adds up

Almost every country that is part of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is increasing the size of their nurse workforce as the population rises – the exception is the UK.1 In England, there has been a NHS staff increase of 7%, but the pattern of investment shows a focus on increasing hospital doctors (15% increase) rather than nurses and health visitors (less than 6% increase). Yet demand is growing. In 2016/17, the amount of health care delivered grew by 23% but the number of full-time equivalent nurses grew by 1%. This is not sustainable, and we can’t expect 1% more nurses to deliver 23% more care. This was the primary message delivered by Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research and Economics at The Health Foundation, during her keynote presentation at the British Psychological Annual Conference 2019: the numbers just don’t add up.

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