"Look at the figures. There are now 11,500 more doctors than there were in 2010, nearly 5,000 more nurses and midwives.”
David Lidington MP, 12 January 2017
This isn’t quite correct, using the most recent comparable figures available at the time. Mr Lidington is overstating the increase in doctors and understating the increase in nurses and midwives.
The best way to compare NHS staff numbers is to take the latest month, and see how that compares to the same month in previous years. That’s because NHS staff numbers are seasonal – they tend to surge in the autumn when new people are recruited. Mr Lidington doesn’t appear to have done that.
Mr Lidington’s office pointed us to NHS England’s workforce statistics as the source of his claim. It looks like he’s comparing the figures for September 2016 with May 2010 – when the Conservatives first entered office. These figures match the ones he’s quoted, but it’s not a fair comparison.
Using the most recent figures Mr Lidington had access to, in September 2016 there were 9,000 more full-time equivalent doctors working for NHS hospitals and community health services in England than there were in the same month in 2010. If we just look at how many individuals are working as doctors, regardless of whether they are full or part-time, the figure is about the same.
Over the same time the number of full-time equivalent nurses, health visitors and midwives increased by about 6,000. There are only about 2,600 more individual people working as nurses and midwives.