Nursing workforce crisis in numbersBMJ 2019; 367 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6664 (Published 05 December 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6664
- John Appleby, director of research and chief economist
- Nuffield Trust, London, UK
The NHS in England is facing a crisis in nursing workforce numbers.1 The problem is not only a current shortage arising from many unfilled vacancies but also, given current trends, a forecast of a growing gap between labour supply and the demands on the NHS.
Across the NHS, over the past decade, the nursing workforce has increased by 4% (from 278 470 to 289 851) (fig 1),2 in part through greater numbers of foreign nurses (fig 2).3
Nurses account for over a quarter of the NHS workforce in England (fig 3). However, over the past decade some specialties have lost numbers—mental health, community health, and learning disabilities, for example (fig 1). The general population has risen by about 7% in the same period,4 and …