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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

NHS workforce stats for May 2023: Record numbers of doctors and nurses in NHS

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For the second consecutive month, there are record numbers of doctors and nurses working in the NHS helping to deliver extra appointments, speed up diagnoses and tackle the Covid backlog.

At the same time, additional data shows there are more than 29,000 additional primary care staff as the government announced last week it has delivered on its commitment to recruit 26,000 more staff in primary care by March 2024.

This is what you need to know.

How many NHS staff do you have?

  • There are more than 1.2 million full-time equivalent staff working in NHS trusts in England. This is over 53,600 more people compared to a year ago - an increase of 4.4%.
  • There are over 5,400 more doctors and over 12,900 more nurses working in NHS trusts compared to March 2022.
  • We are on target to meet the 50,000 nurses government commitment - with over 44,000 more nurses in March 2023 than there were in September 2019.

What about general practice?

  • There are 500 more full-time equivalent doctors working in general practice compared to a year ago.
  • There are also more than 29,000 extra staff working in primary care, including GP surgeries and community pharmacies, compared to March 2019.
  • We have delivered our commitment to recruit 26,000 more staff in primary care by March 2024.

What are you doing to recruit and retain more health workers?

  • These figures demonstrate the clear progress being made to train and recruit record numbers of staff across the NHS.
  • We will soon be publishing a long-term workforce plan focused on recruiting and retraining more staff.
  • We have published a Primary Care Recovery Plan setting out how we will support general practice to recover from the pandemic: NHS England » Delivery plan for recovering access to primary care

What have you already done to boost the workforce?

We have:

  • Reformed the pension tax system and NHS Pension Scheme to encourage more experienced, senior staff to remain in work for longer.
  • Funded an extra 1,500 medical school places per year - a 25% increase - and created five new medical schools as part of this process.
  • Since September 2020, we have made available a new, non-repayable training grant of at least £5,000 per academic year for nursing and midwifery courses and further funding of up to £3,000 per academic year for eligible students.
  • Published the NHS People Plan in July 2020, putting NHS staff wellbeing at its heart with a recruitment, retention, and support package. It sets out practical support for wellbeing such as wellbeing guardians and support to keep staff physically safe and healthy.
  • Launched a fifth consecutive national recruitment campaign ‘We are the NHS’ to inspire people to consider a career in healthcare and increase applications for healthcare courses.
  • For the third consecutive year, seen over 26,000 acceptances to undergraduate nursing and midwifery programmes and in 2022 there were 3,700 more acceptances compared to 2019 – a 16% increase.
  • Last year, had a record breaking 4,032 doctors accepted on to a place on GP training.

Where can I access the figures?

The latest figures for February 2023 can be found in full below:

NHS workforce: NHS Workforce Statistics - February 2023 (Including selected provisional statistics for March 2023) - NDRS (

General practice workforceGeneral Practice Workforce, 30 April 2023 - NDRS (

Our latest statement

Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, said:

“We continue to make progress on strengthening the NHS and primary care workforce.

“Cutting waiting lists is one of the government’s five priorities, so it is extremely promising to see record numbers of NHS doctors, nurses, midwives and nursing associates registered to practice in the UK to ensure patients get the care they need more quickly.

“We have published a Primary Care Recovery Plan setting out how we will support general practice to recover from the pandemic, and will soon publish a long term workforce plan focused on recruiting and retraining more staff – to help tackle the backlogs and improve patient care.”

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