Registered nurses


Key findings 

  • There were 42,000 registered nurses working in adult social care in 2017 
  • Registered nurses were one of the only job roles to see a significant decrease of roles between 2012 and 2017 (down 9,200 or 18% since 2012).
  • 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.
  • Almost a third of registered nurses (32.4%) were estimated to have left their role within the past 12 months, this was approximately 11,500 leavers.
  • There was an estimated vacancy rate of 12.3% equivalent to around 5,000 vacancies at any given time.
  • Almost a fifth (18%) were on zero-hours contracts.
  • Around 64% were British, 17% had an EU nationality and 19% had a non-EU nationality.
  • The mean annual pay rate in 2017/18 was £29,400. Over the same time period the NHS pay band 5 was around £22,000 to £28,700 and band 6 was between £26,600 and £35,600.


About this paper

The paper is a comprehensive look into registered nurses working in the adult social care sector.   It discusses the factors contributing to problems with recruitment and retention include perceived lack of career development opportunities and the negative image of the social care sector, as portrayed by the media.

More updated figures about this workforce can be found in the 'state of' report listed below.


Related reports

  • National information can be found in 'Size of the adult social care sector and workforce' report or ‘State of the adult social care sector and workforce’ below
  • For nurse data at a regional level please see the relevant regional report.
  • The workforce estimates below contain tabulated information with more breakdowns (sector, service, geographical level) than are presented in the reports. 

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