The NHS is launching a major recruitment drive today (24 October) in a bid to fill tens of thousands of empty roles.
England’s chief nursing officer Ruth May today urged applicants to consider a “life-changing” career in nursing, citing figures that six in 10 people are looking for a career change this year.
Its ‘We are the NHS’ campaign will run a series of adverts across on-demand services, radio, social media and in cinemas. There will be two films featuring stories of patients during their time in hospital and how nurses aided their recovery.
According to NHS England, there are currently 46,828 nursing, midwifery and health visitor vacancies. May highlighted the strong employment prospects of pursuing a career in nursing, revealing that 94% of nursing degree graduates find a job within six months.
The number of applicants for nursing-related degrees has increased since the pandemic, rising by more than a quarter from 40,770 in 2019 to 52,150.
Nurse recruitment and retention
May said: “Nursing is a life-changing profession where no two days are ever the same, and I would encourage anyone with a passion for making a difference to people’s lives to consider a career as a nurse.
“From life-saving tests and checks and delivering millions of Covid and flu vaccinations, to getting people back on their feet as the NHS cuts 18-month waits and cares for the thousands of seriously ill patients in hospitals and across our communities, nurses play a vital role.
“As we approach the winter months and NHS services gear up to manage higher demand, it’s clear the difference that nurses make to the health service every day, and I urge anyone considering a career where they want to really make a difference to find out more.”
Last month an analysis by the Nuffield Trust found that more than 40,000 nurses left the profession in England last year, citing poor work-life balance, staffing pressures and feeling undervalued as some of the reasons.
NHS trusts are also under threat of strike action – earlier this month the Royal College of Nursing launched its biggest ever strike ballot. The RCN is seeking a pay rise of 5% above inflation.
Alongside the recruitment drive, NHS England today released the results of a new survey showing that eight in 10 people felt nurses had made a positive impact in their life.
May added that she was “so proud” to be a nurse in the NHS: “It truly is one of the most rewarding jobs you can do,” she said.
“From mental health to A&E, community and children’s services – there are countless roles, specialisms and opportunities across the nursing profession which all make an invaluable contribution to patients and the NHS and social care every day, so if you are considering beginning a career in nursing, I know we will have the right role waiting for you”.
Patricia Marquis, RCN director for England, praised the campaign but said it would be “futile until nursing staff are paid a fair salary”.
She added: “Each and every day, nursing staff give everything they have to care for their patients but a decade of real-terms pay cuts means many can’t even afford to feed their children or put petrol in their car to get to work.”