The number of senior managers working in the NHS has dropped nearly 9 per cent in one year, while nurse numbers have fallen 1.3 per cent, figures show.

Data from the NHS Information Centre reveals 10,786 senior managers were working the equivalent of full-time in November 2011, down from 11,816 in November 2010, a drop of 8.7 per cent.

The number of qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff working full-time equivalent fell 1 per cent to 308,401 from 311,493 the year before.

Within this figure, there was a 1.3 per cent fall in the number of qualified nurses, from 281,836 to 278,140.

There has been a 2.9 per cent rise in the number of midwives working full-time equivalent, from 20,428 in November 2010 to 21,028 in November 2011 - a rise of 600.

The number of health visitors has fallen 1 per cent, from 8,144 to 8,065, while the number of school nurses increased 6.7 per cent from 1,085 to 1,158.

The number of doctors, including locums, has gone up, from 100,204 to 101,668 - a rise of 1.5 per cent across England.

Overall, there were 1,193,344 NHS staff working full or part-time in November 2011, down 24,370 (2 per cent) on November 2010 (1,217,714).

Health minister Simon Burns said: “Despite Labour’s constant scaremongering, these figures are clear proof that the NHS is moving forwards under the coalition.”

Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These alarming figures expose the myth that numbers of nurses are rising.

“They also reveal that the pressure to save £20bn in the NHS in England is hitting the front line - something we have long been saying through our ‘Frontline First’ campaign.”