Commenting on the latest workforce statistics published by NHS Digital, Sue Covill, director of development and employment at NHS Employers, said: “These figures reveal some sobering realities. In mental health and learning disability nursing, for example, they show staff numbers have significantly fallen over the last decade, while demand for care and services is continuing to grow.
"This is despite an overall growth in the NMC register from March 2018 to March 2019, with nurse registrants having increased by 6,907.
“Although overall staff numbers are up, if we look at them alongside the most recent vacancy figures, we can see there is still a great deal of work to do to fill those gaps.
“It’s reassuring to see that staff numbers are not declining overall, but it is clear that they are not growing at the rate they need to, to meet demand.
“To make sure the health service can keep providing the high-quality care our communities expect and deserve, we know there is more to be done to recruit and retain the staff. NHS Employers will continue to offer support in this area through its engagement with employers and targeted resources.
“At the same time, the Government and national organisations can help to alleviate some of the burden by focusing on stimulating supply and retention, supportive migration policy, reforming the apprenticeship levy and reinstating lost CPD funds.”