TV doctors and senior NHS leaders head back to school to inspire young people to work in the NHS

TV doctors Rosemary Leonard, Ellie Cannon and Sara Kayat will return to the classroom to promote careers in the NHS and encourage young people to take up science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

As part of plans to mark the NHS’s 70th birthday, the media medics and other high-profile speakers have volunteered their time to visit secondary schools and colleges in England this summer and help recruit the workforce of the future.

They will also talk to pupils about the importance of studying STEM subjects which are needed to take up many of the key roles in the NHS including dentists, doctors, nurses, midwives and paramedics as well as scientific and engineering roles outside the health service.

A roll call of senior health leaders and clinicians have joined the charity’s network of leading figures giving their time for free in state schools including: Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England; Yvonne Coghill OBE, Director of Workforce Race Equality Standard at NHS England; Steve Powis, NHS medical director; Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England and Baroness Dido Harding, Chair of NHS Improvement. Schools can register directly with the charity for opportunities to host speakers.

A lesson plan – ‘Knowing your NHS’ – has also been produced for use in secondary schools to promote interest in and understanding of the NHS.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England said: “As the NHS turns 70 this year, we can rightly be proud of the enormous contribution it has made to our country.

“But it is absolutely vital we inspire young people to think about working in the NHS and to take up the vital STEM subjects that will equip them for rewarding careers in the future workforce of the NHS.”

Working with the charity Speakers for Schools, the scheme will give school pupils access to insights and advice from individuals who are at the top of the health profession, and to help broaden students’ horizons for what they can achieve.

The NHS is the country’s largest employer offering more than 350 types of profession, many requiring STEM qualifications. Currently only one in four secondary school students choose two STEM A-Levels, and only one in 11 choose maths and physics.

Dr Ellie Cannon, NHS GP, writer and broadcaster said: “The NHS is a great place to work and studying STEM at school has opened up so many opportunities for me.

“It is so important we find ways to spark the imaginations of young people so they opt for one of the many rich and rewarding roles in patient care that the NHS can offer.”

Ashley Hodges, Executive Director of Speakers for Schools said: “We are thrilled to be supporting the NHS’s 70th birthday by helping NHS leadership get into schools across the UK, celebrating not only its amazing contributions to Britain since its foundation, but also the array of specialists, innovators and outstanding individuals that make their work possible.

“We hope this will help students see the amazing amount of opportunity available in the healthcare sector, from bio-medicine to therapy and support roles, and spark new interests for their future.”

Working the partnership with Inspiring the Future, run by the charity Education and Employers, NHS frontline staff are also being encouraged to visit their local schools to talk about their roles and encouraging school children of all ages to consider a career in the NHS.

Katy Hampshire, Director of Operations and Programmes at the charity Inspiring the Future, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the NHS in its 70th year on this initiative. We have a great track record of supporting employees from all levels from the NHS to connect to schools and colleges across the country. With over 1,800 NHS staff already registered with Inspiring the Future, we look forward to supporting them, and many more in helping young people to see the breadth of jobs available within the NHS and make the link to what they are learning at school.”

This is part of a package of measures launched in the NHS’s 70th year to foster links with schools, including:

  • Knowing your NHS’ a lesson plan to support Personal Social and Health Education secondary school lessons. This provides information and activities designed to help young people understand NHS services, how to access them and the importance of using them wisely.
  • Online resources to help teachers plan lessons about NHS careers and promoting good health and wellbeing for various age groups – from primary to secondary school age. The education pack can be found here.
  • The nation’s top nurse has launched a programme that has 165 nursing and midwifery ambassadors who work with young people in schools to promote the profession and change the perceptions of what a career in nursing or midwifery can offer.

You can find out more about the lesson plan ‘Knowing your NHS’ and online resources for teachers and educators by visiting our dedicated 70th birthday website.