Regional variation in the community nursing and support workforce in England: longitudinal analysis 2010-2021

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Shifting care from hospitals into community-based settings is a major policy goal internationally. Community health services in England currently face the greatest workforce shortages of all sectors, threatening the feasibility of this policy. Moreover, little is known about the extent of variation in community workforce provision regionally and how this relates to determinants of need.

Aim: To analyse regional variation in the community services workforce in England between 2010 and 2021.

Methods: We obtained NHS workforce statistics data on the number of nurses and nursing support staff providing community services at each NHS organisation in England, from March 2010 to November 2021. We aggregated the organisation-level data to both regional and national levels which enabled us to maintain consistent units of analysis across the decade. To examine longitudinal trends and regional variation in workforce provision, we calculated the number of staff per 100,000 population aged 65+ in each region and each period. We then graphed and summarised the variation and examined the correlations with levels of deprivation and rurality.

Results: There was a two-fold variation in community services workforce provision between English regions. In November 2021, the number of staff per 100,000 people aged over 64 ranged from 300 in the South West to 697 in the North West. Most regions experienced a reduction in provision between 2010 and 2021, with a 21.2% reduction nationally. East of England experienced the largest reduction of 39.3%, whilst London experienced a 2.1% increase. In November 2021, regions with more deprived populations had higher workforce provision and regions with a larger proportion of residents living in rural areas had lower workforce provision.

Conclusions: The size of the community services workforce has fallen relative to population needs, contradictory to the policy priority to enhance care in the community. There was substantial regional variation in the size of the workforce which has persisted throughout the decade. Workforce provision was higher in more deprived areas but lower in rural areas, potentially impacting equitable access in rural areas.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal Of Nursing Management
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2024


  • Community health services
  • Community nursing
  • health workforce
  • inequalities


Dive into the research topics of 'Regional variation in the community nursing and support workforce in England: longitudinal analysis 2010-2021'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this