NHS managers will have to deal with the largest ever leap in the UK’s population while being able to tap into a diminishing pool of migrant workers.

Figures revealed a record increase in the UK population, which topped 61 million for the first time last year.

The Office for National Statistics said there was an increase of 408,000 people living here in 2008, bringing the total population to 61.4 million. This is an increase of more than two million from 2001.

The increase was sparked by a baby boom as fertility rates soared to their highest rates in a generation.

The rise is the largest since modern records began in 1972, and more than twice the increase of 2001 when the population rose by 201,000.

Statisticians are now trawling records to confirm it is the biggest population increase in the history of the nation.

At the same time, for the first time in almost a decade immigration has been overtaken by natural changes to the population caused by shifts in birth and death rates as the biggest factor affecting population growth.