Latest mid-year figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have revealed a 1.1% rise in workforce numbers between April and September.
The total number of nurses on the permanent register grew by 0.9% or 5,949, while the number of midwives rose by 2.5% (937) and nursing associates increased by 59.9% (1,014) since March.
The number of professional training in the UK and registered to practice rose by 1.1% from 600,906 to 607,748.
For the same period, the number of registered professionals from outside the EEA rose by 1.8%, or 1,557, to 85,873, however, levels remained substantially than in recent years. An average of 351 overseas professional joined the permanent register each month between April and September compared with 765 in the year earlier period. The NMC said this was due to protective measures due to the coronavirus pandemic limiting the movement people from outside the UK.
Fewer people left the permanent register between April and September (11,615) compared with 13,479 in the year earlier period, however, numbers on the permanent register from within the EEA declined by 1.6% from 31,385 to 30,895.
Figures also show more professionals choosing to stay on the permanent register from the age of 56 with people in that category rising by 4,954 (3.4%) to a total of 150,531. At the same time, the number of those aged 21 to 40 has grown by 4,837 (1.7%) to a total of 284,567.
The numbers of nurses in all four fields of practice increased between 1 April and 30 September. Proportionally, the biggest rise has been seen in the number of children’s nurses – growing from 52,286 to 53,539 (2.4%).
There were 12,756 former nurses, midwives and overseas professionals also on the temporary register.
Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar at the NMC, said: “During an unprecedented time when the coronavirus pandemic brought the flow of professionals from overseas to a short-term standstill, we may have expected overall growth to slow.
“It’s therefore good news to see the growth in our permanent register at this mid-year point is broadly consistent with the same period last year – and even more encouraging to see increases in people from the UK choosing to join and stay.
“However, we cannot be complacent. Nurses, midwives and nursing associates are at the heart of the UK response to COVID-19 and the long term impact on their future recruitment and retention is as yet unknown.
“Together, we must do all we can to nurture, protect and support nurses, midwives and nursing associates so they choose to stay once the COVID-19 crisis has passed. That way our professionals can continue the vital role they have in providing the safe, kind and effective nursing and midwifery care and support the public will need more than ever.”