The NHS would be nothing without the staff who work so hard every day, keeping us healthy and caring for us when we need it and I wholeheartedly support the Government's commitment to building a bigger, better trained NHS workforce.
Our NHS relies on effective workforce planning to ensure we can meet the health and care needs of local communities and I applaud the dedication of healthcare workers across a range of professions.
Latest data for April 2023 shows that there are over 1.27 million full-time equivalent members of staff working in NHS trusts and commissioning bodies in England. This is over 51,500 more people compared to April 2022, which represents an increase of 4.2 per cent. As of March 2023, 440 more full-time equivalent doctors were working in general practice compared to a year ago and they continue to deliver more face-to-face appointments.
I stood on a manifesto that promised to deliver effective and sustainable workforce planning in our NHS. The Government is on track to deliver its manifesto commitment of 26,000 more primary care staff to help improve patient access to appointments and reduce the Covid-19 backlogs. Data for April 2023 shows there are more than 25,000 additional primary care staff, demonstrating that the Government remains on course to reach its target of 26,000 more staff in primary care by March 2024.
The latest data also shows there are over 5,300 more doctors and over 12,300 more nurses working in the NHS compared to February 2022. Since 2010, there are now over 37,800 more doctors and over 53,700 more nurses. At the same time, almost 2 million more GP appointments were delivered in March 2023 compared to a year ago. This represents 83,500 more appointments each working day.
Other key NHS hospital workforce groups are also continuing to grow. For example, there are now almost 18,000 professionally qualified ambulance staff, 12 per cent more than in 2019 and over 81,000 allied health professionals, 20 per cent more than 2019. These staff work hand in hand with the over 380,000 clinical support staff who are so vital to the effective delivery of patient care. Last year, a record breaking 4,032 doctors accepted a place on GP training. Just as in hospitals, trainees deliver direct patient care while being safely supervised and support fully-qualified GPs, helping to ease workloads and increase capacity in general practice.
The Government is continuing to deliver and expand its commitments to ensure that NHS vacancies are filled as quickly as possible and by the most suitable candidates. Over recent months, the Government has allocated £500 million of investment in the adult social care workforce to transform jobs in the sector. This will help to provide people with a rewarding career in social care, offering opportunities to develop and progress and boosting the recruitment and retention of staff.
Furthermore, in August last year, NHS England set out a package of measures to boost recruitment to the NHS ahead of the busy winter period. This included provisions to increase the number of NHS 111 call handlers to 4,800 and the number of NHS 999 call handlers to 2,500. It also included plans to maximise recruitment of new staff in primary care across the winter, including care co-ordinators and social prescribing link workers.
On 22 September 2022, the Government published its Our Plan for Patients. As part of this strategy, the Government committed to changing elements of the NHS pension scheme to help retain doctors, nurses and other senior NHS staff, to increase capacity. Building on actions set out in Our Plan for Patients, the Government has now launched a consultation on changes to the NHS Pension Scheme, to retain experienced NHS clinicians and remove the barriers to staff returning from retirement, such as the 20,000 former NHS staff who returned to support the NHS at the height of the pandemic.
The Government has commissioned NHS England to develop a long-term workforce plan for the NHS workforce for the next 15 years. This will look at the mix and number of staff required across all parts of the country and will set out the actions and reforms that will be needed to reduce supply gaps and improve retention. The Government has committed to independently verifying this report, and publishing it in 2023.