Britain's NHS lost 21,000 people from its workforce between the first and second quarters of 2013, according to official figures - 1.3% of its workforce

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has come under criticism from Labour and the unions over claims the NHS is being privatised and suffering cutbacks, but the government says it is increasing its spending on the popular public service.

"Despite the chancellor's boasts this week, austerity is continuing to cause damage and we are far from a strong and sustained jobs recovery," said TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady.

"These figures show how government cuts are continuing to hit vital frontline services."

Such a high fall in the quarter was not reflective of the trend in the year up to the second quarter in 2013. NHS employment fell in headcount terms by 11,000 or 0.7% and 0.5% or 6,000 on a full-time employment basis.

Public Sector Job Losses

The government's emphasis on private sector job creation was strengthened as employment in the public sector decreased by 34,000 or 0.6% in terms of headcount compared to the first quarter of 2013.

Between the first and second quarter of 2013, the number of people employed in UK corporations remained broadly the same with a fall of 0.2%.

The West Midlands was the region that saw the largest fall in public sector employment by 19,000 or 4.0% in the year to the second quarter 2013.

In Northern Ireland, public sector employment increased by 0.1% to the year over the same time period.

There are 5.7 million people employed in the public sector for the second quarter which is just 11% lower than the peak level in the third quarter of 2009.

Private Sector Gains

Meanwhile total UK private sector employment increased by 114,000 or 0.5% in the second quarter of 2013 compared to the first.

Total UK private sector employment has shown an increase every quarter in the two years leading up to the second quarter of 2013.

The largest increase in private sector employment in the last three months was in London with 155,000 or 4.3% gain.

The Yorkshire and Humber region gained 82,000 jobs or 4.3% of private sector jobs, but lost 14,000 or 2.8% of public sector jobs in the second quarter of 2013.