“Under this government there’s 6,000 fewer nurses working in mental health, 400 fewer doctors working in mental health”
Jeremy Corbyn, 11 January 2017
Between 2010 and 2015 the number of mental health nurses in England was reduced by over 6,100, or 14%. These are ‘full-time equivalent’ nurses working in psychiatry and with people with learning disabilities. More recent figures to September 2016 show the fall at around 6,500.
Mr Corbyn is using a broad definition of mental health nurses here, including those who work with learning disabilities. NHS Digital, which publishes the figures, uses this definition so that figures for mental health nurses can be compared back over time.
Looking only at mental health nurses working in psychiatry (and excluding those working in learning disabilities) there were around 4,600 fewer between 2010 and 2015. That’s a reduction of about 11%. Adding in the more recent figures to September 2016, that fall is around 4,800.
The number of places for trainee mental health nurses has increased in recent years. But this won’t necessarily lead to more nurses actually working for the NHS—Health Education England is concerned that “the existence of over 3,000 vacancies indicates this education supply is not translating into increased numbers in employment”.
We’ve asked Mr Corbyn’s office about the source of his claim that there are 400 fewer doctors working in mental health.
There were 167 fewer fully trained doctors specialising in psychiatry and psychotherapy in September 2016 compared to September 2010, and 36 fewer such doctors overall, according to the latest NHS England workforce statistics.