Students targeted in biggest ever NHS recruitment drive

The NHS in England has launched the biggest recruitment drive in its history to encourage students to work in the health service.

The health service, which is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its creation this week, ended the last financial year with almost 100,000 vacancies.

The new £8 million recruitment drive is set to to target young people in a bid to encourage them to take up a career in the NHS.

The We Are The NHS campaign will highlight professions across the health service, initially focusing on nursing.

Figures from NHS Improvement in May highlighted that, in addition to the 1.1 million whole-time equivalent (WTE) staff employed by NHS providers in England, there were almost 93,000 WTE vacancies.

This includes nearly 36,000 nurses and almost 10,000 doctors.

NHS England said the campaign will primarily target students aged 14 to 18 through TV and radio adverts as well as posters and social media.

A poll released to mark the launch of the campaign, which is being funded by NHS England and the Department for Health and Social Care, found that three quarters (75%) of English adults claim that nurses and doctors as professions they trust the most.

We are the NHS - biggest ever recruitment drive launched for the health service in England (NHS England)
We are the NHS – biggest ever recruitment drive launched for the health service in England (NHS England)

And almost seven in 10 (68%) of the 2,100 people surveyed said they were some of the most important roles in society.

But people could not generally identify different sectors nurses worked in, such as mental health, and could not name nursing roles outside of the hospital sector, such as district nursing.

England’s most senior nurse, Professor Jane Cummings, said the survey findings showed why young people should feel inspired to choose a career in the NHS but that more needed to be done to highlight the range of opportunities available.

Prof Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, said: “The NHS is our country’s most loved institution and that is down to the expert skill, dedication and compassion of its brilliant staff.

“There are over 350 careers available within the NHS giving young people an astonishing range of options.

“This campaign is all about inspiring young people and others who want a change of career to come and work for the NHS and have a rewarding and fulfilling career that makes a real difference.”

However among the parents polled, a smaller number said they would be “proud” if their son became a nurse compared with those with daughters.

Six in 10 (60%) said they would be proud of their daughter becoming a nurse compared to 42% who said they would be proud of their son being a nurse.

Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said: “Being a nurse or midwife in the NHS is one of the most exciting and fulfilling careers anyone can undertake.

“I want this campaign to inspire people to take up a career in the NHS and help boost the number of home-grown nurses and midwives.”

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “This powerful campaign marks a turning point but the focus on the next generation needs to continue long after the birthday candles have gone out.

“Staffing shortages in the NHS are a source of huge pressure and force even more to leave.

“This campaign can break that cycle.

“Nursing is a job like no other and the difference you make to people’s lives is very visible and highly rewarding.

“Patients get the majority of their care from nurses and the next generation will be at the forefront of innovation.”

In the autumn the Department of Health and Social Care will run a national adult social care recruitment drive.

CareersWeb editor