As it celebrates its 70th anniversary and prepares for new challenges ahead, the NHS has embarked on its biggest ever recruitment drive.
A multi-million-pound TV advertising campaign will spearhead the bid to recruit thousands of nurses, as new research shows the nation holds NHS staff in special regard. The public poll – carried out as part for the new national “We are the NHS” recruitment drive – found that nurses and doctors top the list of the most trusted and respected professions in the UK.
Three-quarters of those surveyed chose nurses and doctors as professions they trust the most and seven in ten said they were some of the most important roles in society. Yet most of those surveyed did not know the wide range of careers available working as a nurse. Only 3% knew that nurses work in mental health and one third could not name a nursing role outside of hospital, like district nurses.
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 needs to be done to highlight the vast range of opportunities available for talented and dedicated people.
The £8 million campaign, funded by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care, highlights the vast range of opportunities available in the NHS for potential recruits. It initially puts the spotlight on nursing, prioritising key areas including mental health, learning disability and community and general practice nurses. Timed to coincide with the NHS’s 70th anniversary, the campaign includes TV and radio advertising, posters and social media, primarily targeting young people aged 14 to 18.
Professor Jane 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. Nursing and midwifery make up the largest part of the workforce and, as I know from personal experience, provide a unique opportunity to make a real difference to peoples’ lives in a way that simply cannot be matched.
“Nurses and midwives provide expert skilled care and compassion, and they are highly talented leaders in the NHS. 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.”
There were more than 34,000 nursing vacancies reported in England between April to September 2017 with more than 6,000 in mental health and 1,500 in community nursing at the end of the year.
Campaign research found that even though nurses are widely respected for the work they do, there were demonstrable differences in parents’ expectations for their sons and daughters. Only four in 10 parents said they would be proud of their son being a nurse and three in 10 were unable to name roles they could work in other than hospitals.
Further findings suggest parents are unaware of the skills and opportunities available in 21st century nursing. The vast majority saw nurses first and foremost as ‘caring’, but far fewer saw them as ‘leaders’, ‘innovators’ and ‘academics’.
As well as the national recruitment campaign, NHS England is leading work with more than 800 nursing and midwifery ambassadors who are helping to change the perceptions of these professions to help parents, teachers and young people see nursing and midwifery as a career of choice.
Janet Davies, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Future nurses who are inspired this summer will help the NHS to reach its first century and beyond. 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.
“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.”