The NHS workforce is bigger than ever, official figures revealed today. 

More than 1.3million doctors, nurses and admin staff were employed full-time by the health service in England September 2023. 

It marks a rise of over a third in the space of a decade. 

The figures come amid repeated warnings of a workforce crisis that insiders claim is jeopardising efforts to tackle NHS backlogs.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis found the number of staff increased across all groups over the last decade.

Doctors saw the highest spike (37 per cent), with 138,000 now working in the health service — up from just over 100,000 in 2013. 

The number of nurses, midwives and health visitors also jumped by more than a fifth (363,000). 

Clinical support staff — which includes physiotherapy assistants and prosthetic technicians — make up the largest proportion of the workforce, accounting for 405,000 employees.

The NHS gets around £160billion-a-year, of which a huge segment is spent on paying staff.

Yet, despite the ballooning bill and growing workforce, right-wing think-tanks say that performances have worsened. As such, the NHS has been described as a ‘blackhole of taxpayer money’.

The last time the NHS nationally met its A&E time target — for 95 per cent of patients to be admitted, transferred, or discharged within four hours of arrival — was in 2015.

Meanwhile, a National Audit Office report last year found it has not met its goal to complete all ambulance handovers at hospitals within 30 minutes, since it started collecting data in November 2017. 

Queues for routine treatment soared to an all-time high in the wake of the pandemic, with 7.6million currently stuck in the queue in England alone.

For comparison, the waiting list in England was 4.6 million in December 2019.

Latest stats also reveal England’s population has grown by 3.4million (6.5 per cent) in a decade, stretching NHS services further. 

Equally, England’s population is ageing. 

The Health Foundation estimates the number of people older than 85 will double to 2.6million in the next 25 years. 

The proportion of older people aged above 75 with a long-term condition has also risen, with needs likely to become more complex, driving demand for NHS services. 

According to ONS figures today, the number of doctors registered in the UK with the General Medical Council hit 296,000 in December 2022 — the latest available data. 

This is a rise of almost a fifth (18.4 per cent) reported in December 2018 (250,000). 

Latest data from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) also shows there were almost 798,000 nurses, midwives and dual registrants on the register on 30 September 2023 in the UK.

It had risen 15 per cent on the 693,000 logged in September 2018. 

But officials have long warned, however, that the NHS’s over-reliance on nurses and midwives from overseas is ‘not sustainable’. 

It comes as estimates released last month by NHS Digital show foreign nationals account for a fifth of all NHS staff in England.

Three in 10 nurses and more than a third of doctors are non-UK residents — the first time this milestone has been reached.

Some 215 nationalities are now represented in the NHS workforce.

Latest figures suggest that the number of UK-trained nurses registered to work in Britain has risen by 22,000 since 2019.

Yet, this is half the increase seen in staff trained abroad over the same time-frame, which sits closer to 44,000. It means that international recruits make up two-thirds of the growth.

Some are also from ‘red list’ nations, where the World Health Organization deems nurse shortages are severe and urges wealthy countries not to poach staff from. 

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