The number of GPs and professionally qualified clinical staff in the NHS rose significantly in the last 11 years, although the number of GP practice nurses fell on 2008's rate, figures have revealed.
An investigation by the NHS Information Centre showed there were 1,900 more GPs employed by the service in 2009 than there were in 2008.
In all, staff numbers reached 1,432,000 in 2009 – an increase of 63,300 (4.6%) on the previous year and a 34% rise since 1999.
Within this group, the number of nurses and the number of scientific, therapeutic and technical staff went up by 2% and 5% respectively. School nurses increased by 110 on 2008 to stand at 1,527 – a 225% increase since 2003.
But the statistics also revealed a 1.8% drop in the number of GP practice nurses. Health visitor numbers were also down on 2008, falling by 440 to 10,390.
NHS Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson said: "The fact there are 1,900 more GPs and 3,000 more nurses working in the community means we are doing what we said we would in the NHS, which is to move care closer to people's homes. It's what patients have told us they want.
"The census shows the largest rise in GP numbers since 1997."
Elsewhere, the number of managers in the health service rose 12% by the end of 2009, with the NHS employing 44,660 – up 4,750 (12%) since 2008.
The figure represents an 84% rise on the 20,370 employed in 1999, with a yearly average rise of 6.3% over the last decade.
Despite the increase, a spokesman for the Department of Health said the NHS was committed to reducing management costs in the near future.
"The NHS must continue to improve patient care, generating efficiency savings by reducing management and back-office costs, and implementing new ways of working," he said.
"That is why it was announced in December, through the Operating Framework, that the NHS will reduce management costs by 30% by 2013/14."
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