I was extremely annoyed this evening to see a Newsnight report in which one lady announced that there are two managers to every nurse in the NHS and how can it possibly take 100 people to run a hospital. From her non-existent experience of working in a hospital, she told the world that you can run a hospital on far fewer people if they are the right staff.
Well, I found the NHS Information Site and here are the numbers of employees across the NHS as of March 2009:
Qualified nursing staff: 417,164
Qualified scientific / therapeutic / technical staff: 149,596
Qualified ambulance staff: 17,922
Professionally qualified clinical staff: 725, 579
Support to clinical staff: 377,617
Central functions: 115,818
Hotel, property and estates: 75,625
Manager & senior manager: 44,661
Infrastructure support: 236,103
Other non-medical / unclassified staff: 364
Other GP practice staff: 92,333
As you can see, there are not two managers to every nurse. In fact, there are nearly ten nurses to every manager. Of the 1,431,996 members of staff, just over 3% are classified as 'manager' or 'senior manager', compared to over 29% which are classified as 'qualified nursing staff', so say nothing of the other 'professionally qualified staff' that make up over half of the NHS workforce.
The number that surprises me is the 75,625 people working in hotel, property and estates! I suppose that must include the builders / plumbers / electricians / gardeners who keep the property going.
Anyway, the point is, it seems to be that the ratio of professionally qualified clinical staff to support staff is about right – such an enormous and far-reaching organisation needs a lot of people to keep it running smoothly. No doubt there is inefficiency, and over-spending on IT etc, but many of the 'facts' that I hear peddled about the NHS and the numbers of nurses & managers are simply not true.