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GP practice nurse numbers grow by 1.7%

The number of GP practice nurses grew by almost 2% in 2013, despite overall numbers of nurses in the health service increasing by less than 1%.

Responding to an MP’s question on nursing numbers, the Department of Health said that in 2013 there were 14,943 full-time equivalent GP practice nurses, compared with 14,695 in 2012, a 1.7% increase.

In the same time period, the total number of qualified full-time equivalent nurses increased by 0.9%, from 319,755 to 322,635.

Comparing numbers over a 10-year period, the number of GP practice nurses grew by 15.2%, from 12,967 in 2003. This was also at a faster rate than the overall number of nurses, which increased by 11.1%, from a 2003 number of 290,971.

NHS England highlighted the faster growth of GP practice nurses compared with the nursing population on the whole in its ‘Call to Action’ evidence pack last year.

But the statistics also showed there is wide geographic variation in the number of practice nurses per head of population, with urban areas having much lower numbers of practice nurses than rural areas.

The number of full-time equivalent GPs increased by 1.2% between 2013 and 2012, and by 20.6% since 2003, the Health and Social Care Information Centre annual workforce census showed in March.