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BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 19 October 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:S3-7063

More than three quarters of a million whole time equivalent staff are directly employed by the NHS hospital and community health services, according to the Department of Health's Statistical Bulletin, though the figures do not include the primary care services. Nurses are the largest group-they comprise 45% of all staff. Doctors and dentists (7%) are outnumbered by scientific, technical, and therapeutic staff (12%). Administration and estates employ 22% and healthcare assistants and support staff employ 11%, which means that about two thirds of all NHS staff are employed in direct patient care.

Comparisons with previous years' data must be made with caution because of a change in the census method last year, but the crude figures show a reduction in the number of nursing staff over the period 1985 to 1995 of more than 50000 (13%), with a concomitant increase in staff employed by private hospitals and homes. The number of directly employed ancillary staff has decreased by 50% over the same period.

NHS hospital and community health services non-medical staff in England: 1985-1995 Department of Health Statistical Bulletin 96/19, August 1996.

The General Medical Services Committee plans to set up a subcommittee to represent the interests of non-principals and has had talks with Dr Richard Fieldhouse who has founded the National Association for Non-principals. Dr Fieldhouse estimates that as many as 4000 general practitioners work in this way, and their needs, postgraduate education, superannuation, and research funding, are currently unrepresented. You can fax Dr Fieldhouse on 01243 536428.

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