The NHS workforce has been cut by more than 8,000 in the past year, official figures show.
The headcount in England was 1,182,933 in August, 3,857 (0.3 per cent) less than the previous month and 8,273 (0.7 per cent) down on August 2011, according to the latest data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
The number of qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff has reduced from 353,912 in May 2010 to 346,178 in August 2012 – a reduction of 7,734 posts.
In the last month alone, the figure has fallen by 1,146 posts.
Unison warned that patients will pay the price as the quality of care they receive “declines”. The union said: “Not only has the Government hit the NHS with a demand for £20 billion in efficiency savings, it has wasted millions on a chaotic top-down reorganisation.”
Shadow Health Minister Jamie Reed said: “The Prime Minister has cut the NHS budget two years running and in many hospitals there are simply not enough qualified nurses on the ground.”