• Health Education England’s third national workforce plan reveals 80,000 additional staff by 2020
  • Adult nurse training places increase for third consecutive year - a growth of 15 per cent since 2013
  • Numbers of hospital consultants and GPs to grow by 11,000 by 2020

More than 80,000 additional healthcare staff will be trained to work in the NHS over the next five years, according to newly published plans by Health Education England.

In its third national workforce plan, published today, the national education and training body set out the growth in supply of staff to the NHS by 2020 including almost a 15 per cent growth in both nurses and doctors by the end of the parliament.

For the third consecutive year the numbers of adult nurses being trained will increase in 2016-17. Next year the numbers of places will grow by 257, or 1.8 per cent compared to 2015-16.

Since 2013-14 there has been an overall 15 per cent growth in adult nurse training places at universities, largely as a response to increased demand from NHS hospitals in the wake of the Mid Staffordshire Public Inquiry.

By 2020, HEE is predicting an overall 10 per cent increase in the supply of adult nurses available to work in the NHS, delivering a net increase of 21,133 qualified nurses. HEE’s forecast includes estimates for retirements and staff turnover.

Across all four branches of nursing – adult, mental health, children and learning disabilities - the numbers of available nurses will increase by 15 per cent, or 46, 952, by 2020.

The supply of medical consultants is expected to grow by more than 14 per cent, or an extra 6,039 doctors, while the numbers of GPs will grow by 14.6 per cent, or 5,381 doctors.

Allied health professions, which include roles such as occupational therapists and physiotherapists, will increase by 31 per cent, or an additional 23,713 staff to work in the NHS.

For 2016-17, workforce groups seeing an increase in training places include:

  • Adult nurses – an increase of 257 places, or 1.8 per cent, to a total of 14,417
  • Mental health nurses – an increase of 100, or 3.1 per cent, to a total of 3,342
  • Paramedics – an increase of 605, or 53 per cent, to a total of 1,729
  • Physician associates – an increase of 452, or 221 per cent, to a total of 657

Overall medical specialty training has been held flat with small increases of less than 1 per cent in emergency medicine, general practice and clinical radiology.

Health Education England’s national workforce plan for 2016-17 is based on local demand estimates by NHS providers and commissioners, as well as expected levels of retirement, workforce turnover and demand from the independent sectors.

The national workforce plan also warned that a focus on retention of existing staff was crucial to maintaining sufficient NHS workforce levels.

It said: “Proposed training levels will provide for over 70,000 growth in nurses, midwives, AHPs, and scientists over the next five years, as well as over 10,000 consultants and GPs.

“HEE recognises the key risk represented by current shortages and also recognises key service priorities such as cancer mean some workforce groups need to grow as quickly as possible.

“We have therefore made a small number of commissioning increases which have been offset in part by small reductions to professions where supply is more secure.

“These actions, along with the decisions in HEE’s previous two workforce plans, can provide the basis for secure future supply, however the performance of the system in valuing and keeping its existing staff is of equal importance.”

Overall the investments made in 2016-17 will cost HEE an additional £70m, which it will need to find in savings from elsewhere in its £5bn budget following the flat cash settlement it has received for the coming five years.

From 2017, HEE will no longer be expected to commission training places for nurses and allied health professionals after chancellor George Osborne announced plans to scrap the current NHS bursary system. He described the system as a “self-defeating” cap on training places.