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National Health Service (Pay)

Volume 13: debated on Monday 23 November 1981

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish in the Official Report the letter sent in reply to the priority written question of 31 July to the hon. Member for Norfolk, North; and if he will provide a breakdown of the staff increases so far made, and to be made, into doctors, nurses, administrators and ancillary workers.

The text of my letter of 14 September 1981 is set out below:

"I am sorry that I was not able to reply to your Priority Written question of 30 July. You asked for the staff numbers from which it is calculated in the Memorandum to the Supply Estimates 1981–82 that there will be an increase of £106 million in payments of NHS wages, salaries, etc. between 1980–81 and 1981–82 as a result in changes in staff numbers. You also asked for the comparable staff numbers for 1979–80.
The figure of £106 million covering England, Scotland and Wales, quoted in the Chief Secretary's Memorandum to the Supply Estimates was derived from a comparison of the probable staff content of successive Main Estimates, distinguishing as far as possible between likely changes in manpower input and the cost of pay awards. The element related to manpower is a reflection in financial terms of the likely effect of the Government's policy for growth in the hospital and community health services, and assumes that the current relativities between staff and non staff expenditure will be maintained. Supply Estimates for the NHS are therefore derived directly in financial terms, rather than from detailed manpower figures. The broad manpower assumptions implicit in this derivation may be different from the numbers and mix of staff which in the event are actually employed, since these are determined by the decisions of individual health authorities acting within the financial constraints imposed by the setting of cash limits.
The following figures are the latest available on NHS manpower. The total numbers of staff employed in the NHS in Great Britain as at 30 September 1979 was 939,700 (whole time equivalents). For the financial year 1980–81, returns from health authorities suggest a provisional mid year manpower figures of 963,500. Although detailed manpower projections for future years are not available, I can however indicate some broad assumptions about likely staffing levels based on the expenditure plans for the NHS as set out in Cmnd. 8175. A tentative estimate for the financial year 1981–82, assuming existing staffing patterns continue, is 981,200."
As indicated in my earlier reply, the estimate for the total number of NHS directly employed staff in 1981–82 was not based on detailed manpower projections, and is highly tentative. Information is not yet available about the actual numbers in each of the main staff groups in 1981–82. The figures for 1979–80 and 1980–81 are as follows.

NHS Directly Employed Staff: Great Britain (Whole time equivalents)

Staff Group


1980 (Provisional)


Medical and dental staff45,15046,450
Nursing and midwifery437,405448,870
Professional and technical71,40777,500
Administrative and clerical121,900124,890

* Rounded.