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  • 11 July 2024
  • 12 min read

Stats And Facts On The UK's Nursing Workforce 2024

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    • Mat Martin
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Richard Gill
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Charles Osadare
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This article was last updated on 11th July 2024. We use publicly available information. If you feel anything is incorrect please add it in the comments and we will investigate.

UK nursing jobs, and care workforce data, numbers and statisticsUK nursing jobs, and care workforce data, numbers and statistics

An at-a-glance compilation of the latest UK nursing workforce data for 2024.

We thought it would be useful to have a one-stop-shop for facts and stats on the UK's nursing workforce. There’s no fluff here, just the data!

How many Registered Nurses are there in the UK?

There are 748,528 Nurses on the permanent NMC register in the UK as of November 2023.

This is up from just over 730,000 in March 2023.

The total number of people on the NMC permanent register is 808,488. This includes Nurses, Midwives, and Nursing Associates.

That's a 20,000 person increase in around 6 months.

How many UK Nurses are there in each field of practice / branch of nursing?

Figures from NMC Register March 2023:

601,805 = Adult Nurses

97,530 = Mental Health Nurses

58,338 = Children's Nurses

16,806 = Learning Disability Nurses

All categories saw a year-on-year increase between March and September 2023, with the exception of LD Nurses which slightly decreased in number.

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How many Nurses joined the NMC Register for the first time in the last six months?

In total, 30,103 people joined the NMC Register between March and September 2023, a big increase in just 6 months. 

How many Nurses have left the NMC Register in the last six months?

In total, 13,308 people left the NMC Register between March and September 2023.

That represents a small year-on-year decrease in the number of people leaving the register.

What is the number of nursing staff (including Midwives and Nursing Associates) who joined the NMC Register from outside EU /EEA?

21,766 people from outside the EU / EEA joined the register in the last year - which represents a 15.3% increase on 2022.

How many people are on the NMC Register whose original registration was outside the EU / EEA?

The total number of those on the NMC Register who originally registered outside of the EU / EEA is 136,116.

That means that 82.9% of international professionals on the NMC register are from outside the EU / EEA.

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What is the average age of a UK Registered Nurse in 2024?

According to NMC Register figures for November 2023, the average age of an NMC registered professional is now 43 years and 10 months.

What is the gender split of UK Registered Nurses?

11% of Registered Nurses in the UK identify as male. 89% identify as female.

How many NHS nursing vacancies are there?

There are 46,828 NHS nursing vacancies according to the most recent data.

Almost 12% of NHS nursing vacancies are unfilledAlmost 12% of NHS nursing vacancies are unfilled

If we add the number of vacancies to the approximate number of filled roles (350,000) then the total number of NHS nursing roles available is 397,000 - and the nursing vacancy rate is a record high of 11.8%.

How much does the NHS spend on bank and agency Nurses?

The NHS spends approximately £6.2 billion per year on bank and agency nursing shifts, according to the most recently available data from 2019-2020.

Find out more information on the cost of retention in UK NHS nursing here.

How many Nurses are there per capita in the UK?

At the most recent count there were 7.78 Nurses for every 1,000 British people.

It is the same as Lithuania (Norway has 18 for every 1000) according to Nuffield Trust, Sept 2021.

How many people work in Adult Social Care?

Approximately 1.54 million people work in the Adult Social Care sector according to the latest data by Skillsforcare.org.

How many jobs are there in social care in the UK?

According to Skillsforcare, in October 2021, there were 1.67m jobs in social care, an increase of 45,000 jobs on the previous year.

How many vacancies are there in the care sector?

There were 105,000 social care vacancies at any one time during 2020-21. (Skillsforcare), and the numbers appear to have been similar ever since.

What is the care worker staff turnover rate?

Staff turnover is at a high of 34.4% in the care sector in the UK.

Skillsforcare says:

"Staff turnover rates decreased during the pandemic, however recent evidence suggests employers are struggling with retention now as the wider economy is opened back up."

What is the average age of a care sector employee?

The average age of a care sector worker in the UK is 43.3.

27% of the social care workforce are aged 55 and over. This group accounts for 425,000 jobs in social care.

How ethnically diverse is social care?

The social care workforce is more diverse than the population of England - 21% of the workforce is Black, Asian and minority ethnicity, against 14% of the population.

Registered Nurse is the most diverse job role, with 40% of Registered Nurses identifying as BAME.

84% of the social care workforce are British (almost 1.3 million people).

Around 250,000 care sector workers are non-British, and around 113,000 are EU nationals. So, 24% of the UK care workforce are non-British nationals.

What percentage of social care jobs are in the private sector?

78% of social care jobs are in the private sector.

How many Care Home residents are there in the UK?

There are approximately 418,000 Care Home residents in the UK.

How many Care Homes are there in the UK?

Some figures suggest there are 21,723 Care Homes in the UK.

However, according to the CQC data (30.01.21) there are 15,675 Care Homes. Of these, 11,292 are Residential Homes and 4,383 are Nursing Homes.

How many Care Homes are rated as Outstanding by the CQC?

6.4% of the Care Homes in the UK are rated as “Outstanding” (656 homes)

Here’s how the rest are rated by the CQC:

73.8% “good” (11,564 homes)

15% “requires improvement” (2,348 homes)

1.2% “inadequate” (190 homes)

How many Home Care agencies are there in the UK?

There are 11,650 Home Care agencies in the UK.

How are the Home Care agencies the CQC has inspected broken down?

5.4.% “outstanding”

82.2% “good”

11.7% “requires improvement”

0.7% “inadequate”

(Find out more about the CQC and Registered Homes here.)

How many people work for the NHS?

According to NHS Digital data in England there are 1,226,677 FTE (full time equivalent) Hospital & Community Health Service as of March 2022. This is 2.4% (28,930) more than in March 2021.

The NHS (including all of UK) employs 1.4 million people making it the largest employer in Europe and the 8th biggest employer in the world. NHS England is the world's 17th largest employer.

New healthcare jobs over the next decade

There are forecast to be an extra 3.2 million health jobs created between 2021 and the end of the decade.

How much does the UK spend on healthcare?

Total spend on healthcare in 2021 was £277 billion, rising slightly in 2022 to £283 billion, according to the Office for National Statistics.

NHS / Government spending accounted for most of this, as the ONS states:

"Our initial estimates suggest that government healthcare spending in 2021 was in the region of £229 billion, accounting for over four-fifths (83%) of total healthcare expenditure."

The Kings Fund, however, says it was £37 billion less: "In 2020/21 the Department for Health and Social Care spent £192 billion."

How much of the NHS budget is spent on its workforce?

Just under half the total budget is spent on workforce.

The Kingsfund says this:

"the wage bill for the NHS makes up a substantial proportion of its budget. In 2019/20, the total cost of NHS staff was £56.1 billion which amounted to 46.6 per cent of the NHS budget."

nhs wage bill 2019

Doing the maths, this shows that the £6.2bn spent on bank and agency staff, would account for 11% of the total NHS workforce budget.

How many NHS hospitals are there in the UK?

Every source will tell you it's difficult to count the total number of NHS hospitals in the UK.

The Kingsfund can't calculate it either but simply states there are 219 NHS Trusts, and some run more than one hospital, "for example, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust runs nine hospitals".

How many private hospitals are there in the UK?

There are currently 515 private hospitals in the UK according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund in 2020.

Nursing Pay

Pay is a huge topic in itself so we cover that extensively in separate articles on Nurses.co.uk.

Here are some of them.

NHS Pay Scale and Bands 2024

NHS Pay Calculator

Guide to Nurse pay bands in 2024

Overview of UK Nurse salaries 

Midwife pay 

Healthcare Assistant pay 

Registered Manager pay

Care Home Manager pay 

Social Worker pay

Support Worker pay

Care Assistant pay

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About this contributor

I believe people working in healthcare should be able to choose to enjoy work. That is, choose an employer who reflects their values and provides them with a sustainable career. This leads to better patient care, higher retention rates and happier working lives in this most important employment sector.

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    • Scott Tuatara one year ago
      Scott Tuatara
    • Scott Tuatara
      one year ago

      Roughly 750k nursing and midwifery staff in the UK. Roughly 500k registered with the RCN, roughly 100k registered with unison. We ... read more

      • Thanks Scott, this is really interesting. In our pay article about the latest developments that we posted yesterday, we also refer to %s and not actual numbers. I would like to update that article(and... read more

        Thanks Scott, this is really interesting. In our pay article about the latest developments that we posted yesterday, we also refer to %s and not actual numbers. I would like to update that article(and this one)with the actual numbers. Like you say, that is important. The maths / actual numbers is more important than % of turnout / votes to accept or reject.
        read less

        Replied by: Matt Farrah
    • David Coyle 2 years ago
      David Coyle
    • David Coyle
      2 years ago

      How many of these work for the NHS?

      • Not sure what you are asking David? "How many of these"? Do you mean Nurses? If you read down the page a little, you'll see this "There are Registered Nurses working in the NHS".

        Replied by: Matt Farrah

        Oh, yes, this commenting feature removes numbers(to prevent people posting a phone number)! Anyway, read above and you'll see that the NHS employs three hundred and twenty one thousand, six hundred an... read more

        Oh, yes, this commenting feature removes numbers(to prevent people posting a phone number)! Anyway, read above and you'll see that the NHS employs three hundred and twenty one thousand, six hundred and twenty four Nurses!
        read less

        Replied by: Matt Farrah

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