The number of people employed by the NHS increased by 23,000 jobs to a record high in the third quarter of this year, official figures have revealed.
The increase – the seventh successive quarterly rise in NHS employment, taking it above 1.6 million people (6% of the working population) for the first time – took even seasoned observers by surprise following an 18,000 rise in the second quarter, according to the Financial Times.
Most had been predicting at least a levelling off in the workforce despite continued growth in spending, as health authorities and hospitals prepared for the real-terms freeze that is to come, the newspaper said.
The rise in staff numbers was the driver for an overall rise of 23,000 in public sector employment in the third quarter of this year to 6.093 million, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. Local government shed 3,000 jobs, and public corporations employed 5,000 fewer people.
Civil service employment rose by 4,000, driven chiefly by a rise of 7,000 in the numbers employed by Jobcentre Plus to deal with rising unemployment.
There are now 28.93 million people in employment in the UK, according to the latest ONS data.