Latest data shows there are more doctors, nurses and staff than ever before working in the NHS.

  • Government on track to deliver on commitment for 50,000 more nurses by 2024, with over 41,000 more nurses compared to September 2019
  • New pension rules also come into force today to support senior clinicians to continue working in the NHS for longer  

There are record number of doctors and nurses working in the NHS in England helping to deliver extra appointments, speed up diagnoses and cut waiting lists, according to the latest stats.

Data published today by NHS Digital shows in January 2023 there were almost 1.27 million full-time equivalent staff working in NHS trusts and commissioning bodies in England – over 48,700 more people compared to a year ago, an increase of 4%.

The latest data also shows there were over 5,100 more doctors and over 11,800 more nurses working in the NHS compared to January 2022.

Since 2010, there are now over 37,700 more doctors and over 52,400 more nurses working in the NHS. The government is also on track to deliver on its commitment for 50,000 more nurses by 2024, with over 41,000 more nurses compared to September 2019.

Separately, reforms to public sector pensions announced at Budget come into force today which will increase the annual tax-free pension allowance from £40,000 to £60,000 and remove the lifetime allowance charge. These changes will ensure doctors are not disincentivised from remaining in their NHS roles or taking on extra hours, meaning more expertise will be retained so we can continue treating patients and helping to cut waiting lists.

This is alongside wider changes to the NHS Pension Scheme to make retirement more flexible and support staff to remain in work for longer. These changes include allowing retired and partially retired staff to return to work or increase their working hours without having payments to their pension reduced or suspended, fixing the unintended impacts of inflation so senior clinicians are not taxed more than necessary and ensuring staff can continue to access the scheme when working in Primary Care Networks.

Around 22,000 senior NHS clinicians could exceed the previous £40,000 annual allowance in 2023/24 and around 31,000 clinicians have reached at least 75% of the £1.073 million lifetime allowance.

These changes will mean more senior clinicians will be incentivised to stay in the workforce and work as many hours as they want, helping boost the workforce as the NHS continues to tackle the backlogs.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, said:

It’s crucial we have a sustainable workforce as we build a stronger, healthier NHS for the long term with patients at its centre.

We are making progress in training and recruiting a record number of staff – with over 48,700 more compared to a year ago and the NHS will soon publish a workforce plan focused on recruiting and retaining more staff.

Today’s pension changes will also help boost numbers of senior clinicians – so we can continue delivering high quality care for patients.

NHS England will publish a comprehensive workforce strategy this year to help recruit and retain more staff, with independently verified forecasts for the number of doctors, nurses and other professionals that will be needed in five, 10 and 15 years’ time.

Background information

Published 6 April 2023