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Registered nurses

Data correct as at 2020/21

Next update due: Mid October 2022

This page provides information about registered nurses working in the adult social care sector and workforce. This is the latest information available from the Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS), taken from local authorities as at September 2020 and from independent sector employers as at March 2021.


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  • For information about how workforce estimates are created or rounding and suppression rules please visit our webpage on methodology
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Key findings 

  • There were 34,000 registered nurses working in adult social care in 2020/21. 
  • The number of registered nurses has continued to decrease, down 1,800 jobs (5%) between 2019/20 and 2020/21.
  • Registered nurses were one of the only jobs in adult social care to see a significant decrease over the period (down 16,900 jobs, or 33% since 2012/13). The number of registered nurse jobs decreased year-on-year between 2012/13 and 2019/20 (from 51,000 to 34,000).
  • The recruitment and retention of this group is under significant pressure, which has led to the inclusion of nurses on the Migration Advisory Committee’s shortage occupation list in 2015 and have remained listed ever since.
  • Around two in five registered nurses (38.2%) were estimated to have left their role within the past 12 months, this was approximately 11,000 leavers.
  • There was an estimated vacancy rate of 9.9% equivalent to around 3,200 vacancies at any given time.
  • Registered nurses in adult social care had a much higher turnover rate (38.2%) than their conterparts in NHS[1] (8.8% for registered nurses and health vistors).
  • Around 15% were on zero-hours contracts, down from 18% in 2012/13.
  • Around 64% were British, 16% had an EU nationality and 20% had a non-EU nationality.
  • Registered nurses were paid a mean annual salary of £33,600 in the independent sector. This average was slightly higher than NHS Band 5 (£25,655 to £31,534) at which newly qualified nurses start in the NHS, but lower than most of NHS Band 6 (£32,306 to £39,027).


Further resources

  • For registered nurse information at England level, please see the ‘state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’ report and interactive visualisation here.
  • For information at a regional level please see the nine detailed regional reports supported by interactive visualisations here.
  • For information about how Skills for Care supports registered nurses please see our website.