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Numbers of nurses drop by 5,000

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The numbers of midwives, health visitors and school nurses has risen over the last five years, despite the NHS losing more then 5,000 nurses. The losses are attributed to a decrease in nursing posts.

Figures, released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, reveal that there were 348,311 qualified staff working in nursing, midwifery and health visiting. This is down 5,601 on the 353,912 in working in May 2010.

The figure for the total number of staff working in these fields has dropped every year since 2010.

There were 307,634 nurses, midwives and health visitors working the equivalent of full time in May 2013, a decrease from the 310,793 in May 2010.

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive & general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘The only way safe and compassionate patient care can be delivered is if we have enough nursing staff on the ground, with the right skills and training.

‘The ever-increasing pressure nurses are under, with more patients to look after and more complex health conditions to cater for, is untenable and dangerous. This is why the reports of Robert Francis, Sir Bruce Keogh, and recently Professor Don Berwick have all called for NHS trusts to guarantee safe staffing levels.

‘Nurses in the UK want to be able to provide first-class care every hour of every day, however they can only do this if we invest properly in them.'

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