This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

Trends in NHS workforce continue in ‘negative direction’, says new report

Written by: | Published:

Frontline nursing numbers have fallen, despite additional pressures on their time

A new Health Foundation report for 2017 has shown no improvement in the state of the NHS workforce a year on from its last report, claiming that concerning trends from 2016 have ‘largely continued in a negative direction.’

The analysis showed that the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) nurses working in NHS England fell between April 2016 and April 2017, despite ‘rising activity pressures’.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘The drop in the number of nurses this year is deeply worrying, and particularly damaging when nurses are having to cope with rising numbers of patients.’

Although the report found that the number of people working in the NHS increased by 2% in the year to April 2017, this growth has been ‘uneven’. The occupations with the highest rates of growth were those who provide support to clinical staff (2.5%), medical consultants (3.5%), and management positions (4.3%) – meaning a noticeable lack of frontline staff.

Community nursing and mental health, two areas identified as vital to the success of the Fiver year forward view, have witnessed a notable decline in numbers. A recent Health Education England (HEE) report has shown that 11% of nursing posts in mental health are vacant, at a time of mounting recognition surrounding mental health problems in young people.

The report has also been highly skeptical of the governments ability to meet a number of its own workforce targets, including the commitment to raising the number or GPs by 5,000 and to create over 20,000 new mental health posts by 2020.

The foundation’s director of research and economics, Anita Charlesworth, said: ‘There is a growing gap between rhetoric about the government’s ambitions to grow the NHS workforce and the reality of falling numbers of nurses and GPs.

‘This year has been characterised by a series of one-off announcements and initiatives, beset by unrealistic timescales and no overall strategy.’

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘We have a clear plan to ensure the NHS remains a rewarding and attractive place to work, including more flexible working for nurses and greater safeguards for junior doctors.’

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.


I know many many nurses who have left the NHS and more who are leaving, The staff are treated really badly by the NHS in general, the pay is rubish the hours worked are horendous and god forbid you should be ill you then get in trouble for high sickness rate. No thought of staff being run down, being more supportive of us having our own families and comitments, or break down on the way to work, have a death in the family, Your contractual obligations will always come first. I love the NHS but it needs to love it staff and appreciate them way way more than it does, it is a very cold employer.
Posted by: ,

Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code

Read a free issue from Practice Nursing

Register to read a free issue from our sister publication, Practice Nursing.

Including articles on asthma, diabetes and more. Read your copy.


Sign up to the newsletter


Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.


Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team


Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.