More people work in NHS than ever, but the growth is seen as the 'last stage before the tanker slows down and turns'
There are more people working in the NHS than ever – 400,000 more than when Labour came to power in 1997 – but as budgets get tighter it could be a short-lived boost.
The latest figures show that more than 1.6m staff work for the NHS, following an increase of 18,000 in the second quarter of this year and 23,000 in the third quarter. However, the good news needs to be tempered with caution for the future, the NHS Confederation has warned.
Pointing out that the number of NHS jobs being advertised is continuing to go down, policy director Nigel Edwards said: "We suspect this is the last stage before the tanker slows down and finally turns. People still do have growth money this year and they are pursuing targets and other government objectives. Furthermore, some of this recruitment will have been taking place before people had fully woken up to the scale of the problem to come. We think the decline in the number of jobs advertised, however, is significant."
The NHS figures were part of an increase in public sector staff in general, taking the number to more than 6m, despite councils getting rid of 3,000 people and public corporations taking on 5,000 fewer employees. However, some have attributed part of the rise is public sector workers down to the fact that banks are now in the public sector. In Scotland, a 6.4 per cent increase is being put down to the reclassification of Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Lloyds Banking Group as public corporations.
At the same time, the Office for National Statistics has reported that the number of people claiming unemployment benefit rose by 21,000 in the three months to October to 2.49m, the smallest quarterly rise since last May, but the 7.9 per cent unemployed rate is still the worst for 13 years. The ONS pointed out that full-time employment f