The NHS nursing workforce

This report aims to set out the facts on: the scale of the NHS nursing workforce challenge; the challenges to the main entry routes to NHS nursing and more general workforce-related challenges that any future plans will need to address; and the progress made on the People Plan.

Nurses are critical to the delivery of health and social care services, working across hospitals, community services, care homes and primary care. In 2019, around 519,000 people in England were registered to practise as a nurse, while the NHS employed 320,000 nurses in hospital and community services, making up about a quarter of all NHS staff.

In January 2019, the NHS Long Term Plan acknowledged the need to increase staff numbers, noting that the biggest shortfalls were in nursing. The NHS set up the People Plan programme to decide how it would secure the workforce it needed to meet its future service commitments. This report defines workforce planning as the analysis and plans required to ensure that the NHS has the number and type of staff it needs, now and in the future.

This report sets out the facts on:

  • the scale of the NHS nursing workforce challenge;
  • the challenges to the main entry routes to NHS nursing and more general workforce-related challenges that any future plans will need to address; and
  • the progress made on the People Plan.

Full report: The NHS Nursing Workforce

Nurse numbers increase by 8,570 in the past year

The number of nurses has gone up as the government works to increase nursing numbers in the NHS by 50,000 in the next 5 years | Department of Health & Social Care

Since 2010, there have been increases of more than:

  • 20,000 more doctors
  • 18,500 more nurses, midwives and health visitors
  • 4,900 more paramedics

The government has said there will be 50,000 more nurses and 6,000 more doctors in general practice by 2025. This will be supported by £33.9 billion of funding a year for the NHS by 2024 to 2025, which is being made law.

The latest UCAS statistics show the number of nursing applicants to English universities has risen for the second year running. There have been 35,960 applicants to nursing and midwifery courses at English universities in 2020 – a 6% rise compared to 2019.

Full story at Department of Health & Social Care

Matron’s handbook for aspiring and experienced matrons

NHS Improvement | February 2020 |Matron’s handbook

This handbook is a practical guide for those who aspire to be a matron, those who are already in post, and for organisations that want to support this important role.

It can be used to prepare ward, department and service leaders for the matron’s role, and to support newly appointed matrons. 

Although some aspects remain the same: providing compassionate, inclusive leadership and management to promote high standards of clinical care, patient safety and experience; prevention and control of infections; and monitoring cleaning of the environment. The role has also grown significantly, to include: workforce management; finance and budgeting; education and development; patient flow; performance management; and digital technology and research (Source: NHS Improvement). .

The matron’s handbook

New framework launched provides core capabilities clarity for advanced level nurses in primary care/general practice, promoting a high standard of patient care

Skills for Health | January 2019 | New framework launched provides core capabilities clarity for advanced level nurses in primary care/general practice, promoting a high standard of patient care

A framework launched this week provides clarity around the core capabilities required by advanced level nurses working in primary care/general practice and will promote a high standard of care for those utilising the services. It will allow nurses to showcase their advanced level knowledge, skills and behaviours which will be essential in the development of the multi-professional teams to provide excellent prevention and care for people accessing their services.

This framework sets a standard regarding the academic knowledge, skills and behaviours required to enable the highest standards of practice within primary care and general practice. It will support nurses working at an advanced level to demonstrate and evidence their capabilities to service commissioners, employers, people utilising health care and the public. (Source: Skills for Health).
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Royal College of General Practitioners  & Skills for Health

The Core Capabilities Framework for Advanced Clinical Practice (Nurses) Working in General Practice/Primary Care in England 

Further information is available from Skills for Health 


District Nursing Today

The UK’s District Nurse workforce is under severe threat due to long-term underinvestment in training, education and skills, posing a direct threat to patient safety, according to independent report, commissioned by the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI)

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Findings of a new report reveal an evolving healthcare workforce crisis, set against a backdrop of rising demand for district nursing services across all UK regions.

This study shows that for District Nurses (DNs), working conditions, pay, education and training have not improved since the previous QNI report was published (2014). If anything, conditions, lack of support and career development for DNs has deteriorated further, leading to:


  • Working large amounts of unpaid overtime: One in five (22%) of respondents work a day or more of unpaid overtime each week.
  • An ageing workforce heading for retirement: 46% of respondents planning to either retire or leave in the next six years
  • Lack of IT support to do the job efficiently: 36% of respondents reported that Information Technology, or lack access to efficient IT systems, connectivity and support infrastructure is one of the main factors making their role more difficult to sustain
  • The lack of training and development available to District Nurses is a key factor reported to be influencing those looking to leave the profession.
  • Unmanageable caseloads per individual is cited as another challenging factor with almost 30% of teams having a caseload of over 400 patients/people
  • Insufficient time to devote proper care to patients. 63% respondents say they defer visits or delay the delivery of patient care on a daily basis
  • Stagnation and lack of progression in the workforce: 75% of respondents state they have vacancies or ‘frozen posts’ in their teams
  • No administrative support: 28% of respondents have no access to administrative support staff
  • Variation in pay of District Nurses acting as team leaders and significant regional variation in the pay band of District Nurses holding the Specialist Practitioner Qualification.

Full report: District Nursing today: the view of District Nurse Team Leaders in the UK

See also: Sharp Decline in District Nursing Workforce Poses Direct Threat to Patient Safety | QNI

RCN: 100 years of nursing: Always Caring, Always Nursing campaign

Royal College of Nursing | September 2019 | Always Caring, Always Nursing

This year the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is celebrating 100 years of professional nursing with the anniversary of the Nurses Registration Act 1919. In the coming months, they’ll be celebrating the personal stories of nurses from across the UK who have dedicated their careers to caring for people with skill, care and compassion. always-caring-always-nursing
Image source: always-caring-always-nursing

View the 100 years of professional pride timeline 

Read the stories of four dedicated nurses:

Jan’s story

Claire’s story 

Alison’s’ story 

Leanne’s story 

The General Practice Nurse Education Network

General Practice Nurse Education Network | August 2019 | The General Practice Nurse Education Network

This network is part of a number of initiatives arising from the General Practice Nursing 10 point plan. The General Practice Nurse Education Network  (GPNEN)  provides a repository of online resources to assist those nurses working in General Practice to have a “one-stop shop” when looking for continuing professional development initiative and support. adult-blood-care-1350560

It also works to provide a framework for GPN practice education roles within primary care. Provide guidance and resources to primary care about how the new Nursing and Midwifery Standards for student supervision and assessment are applied

It also provides information for student nurses and those new to General Practice Nursing (Source: GPNEN).

A range of resources are available from the GPNEN

Full details about the Network are available from the General Practice Nurse Education Network