Current State Of The UK’s Nursing Workforce: 2024 Statistics And Facts

Diverse Workforce Composition In The Nursing Workforce:

Professionally qualified clinical workers make up almost half of all employees in the nursing workforce. Additional important staff categories include employees in central departments managing the NHS’s real estate and facilities, as well as assisting medical personnel. 1.4 million nursing workforce personnel work directly for nursing workforce trusts in hospital and community services, including ambulance, mental health, and hospital services. This group comprises 25,000 professionals who serve as local planners and commissioners of health services, often known as integrated care boards. Around 190,000 individuals, comparable to 154,000 full-time employees, are employed in general practice services.

There are a total of 188,000 doctors and approximately 423,000 nurses and midwives working in various nursing workforce healthcare facilities. These two categories, however sizable, only make up slightly more than a third (37%) of the entire workforce. This emphasizes the diverse nature of the nursing workforce, which depends on professionals like healthcare scientists, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists.

Diversity In The Nursing Workforce:

25% of nursing workforce workers identify as Asian, black, or another minority ethnicity, although just 13% of all working-age persons in the UK fall into this category. Nevertheless, these ratios differ significantly depending on the staff category. For instance, 39% of nursing staff identify as a minority ethnicity, compared to only 7% of ambulance crew.

Ethnic minority staff face underrepresentation at senior levels, endure negative day-to-day work experiences like harassment, bullying, and abuse, and confront obstacles hindering career advancement. Improvements have been made in reducing disparities in formal disciplinary processes and senior management positions compared to 2016 and the previous year’s report. Inequalities continue to exist.

The Shortfall In The Nursing Workforce:

Official data indicates that there were 125,572 job openings (9%) in the nursing workforce from March to June 2023. Nevertheless, this is hardly a comprehensive account. In May 2021, temporary staff, either through an agency or the nursing workforce ‘bank’ system, filled approximately 80% of registered nurse vacancies and 87.5% of doctor vacancies in around 50 nursing workforce trusts. Nevertheless, there are still certain positions that temporary employees have not filled. Our data indicates that the nursing workforce might have had approximately 1,400 doctor openings and between 8,000 and 12,000 nursing vacancies on a specific day.

Furthermore, additional vacancies in the schedule may result from absences like sick leave. During the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, workplaces reported more than 120,000 staff members absent from work on a single day. 10 Sickness absences have increased significantly over these times, with rates continuously higher than pre-pandemic levels. Anxiety, stress, sadness, and other psychiatric diseases were the primary causes of absence, resulting in an average of more than 500,000 sick days per month in 2022. Considering all these reasons for shortages, our prior investigation determined that around 17,000 nursing and midwifery positions (4%) could be vacant on a specific day, although this figure may fluctuate.

Geographical Disparities:

Staff shortages vary significantly by area, with the highest percentage of full-time equivalent vacancies in London at 11.6% and the lowest in the South West at 6.7%. Previous evidence indicates that practices in poorer areas of England have a lower GP-to-patient ratio compared to practices in less deprived areas. England now has the lowest level of General Practitioner (GP) workforce among the four countries in the UK. Efforts to enhance fairness in the distribution of general practitioners nationwide must consistently pinpoint and oversee regions with the highest patient demand.

Comparison With Other Countries:

Comparisons with other nations should be approached carefully because of variations in factors such as geography, service design, and data. The UK has fewer staff in important groups compared to other industrialized countries, although there is a higher proportion of support staff per capita in the UK, especially in England. Additional information on international comparisons can be found in our international comparison report. The report indicates that the nursing WORKFORCE has higher bed occupancy rates, fewer key staff, and lower levels of capital investment compared to other high-income countries. This suggests that the Nursing Workforce’s recovery from Covid-19 may take longer than other health systems.

Regulation Challenges In The Nursing Workforce:

Another key issue facing the nursing workforce is the regulation of ‘emerging’ professions. The purpose of regulation is to protect those using its services from the risk of harm and to maintain public confidence in those delivering care. However, the growth in new professional Nursing Assignment help roles, changing expectations of many existing roles, and the large-scale migration of clinicians introduce real challenges for the regulation of different staff groups. Legislation’s progression in regulating Physician and Anesthesia Associates, along with subsequent implementation, and current considerations regarding the regulation of advanced clinical practitioners, will significantly influence the utilization and perception of these staff.

Outlook For The Future:

Although the total staff numbers have risen, a workforce crisis persists in the nursing workforce. Financial issues can be resolved by increasing money, but workforce difficulties, such as the departure of clinical experts, are challenging to address as they are not readily or rapidly replaced. The nursing workforce long-term plan recognized the importance of the staff to the service and noted that the number and composition of the workforce were becoming increasingly mismatched with the requirements of the population. By 2031, the prediction indicates that the training of new clinicians will increase by around two-thirds, and the nursing workforce will recruit over 900,000 additional workers in the next 15 years. As of now, there is no guarantee that there will be enough budget to hire the anticipated additional workers. Challenges will arise in ensuring an adequate number of academic and clinical educators and supervisors are available to provide training. This is especially difficult as they would mostly need to come from the current nursing workforce clinical staff, which is currently under significant pressure.


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