‘Never a better time to join the NHS’ says health chief Simon Stevens

NHS chief Simon Stevens is today urging people of all ages to consider embarking on a career in the health service next year, as he thanks those current staff who will be working over Christmas.

People who apply for nursing, midwifery and some Allied Health Professional degrees by January 15 will be eligible for financial support of up to £8,000 a year if they start their studies in September. Extra support is available for people with childcare responsibilities as well as for mental health nursing.

And the NHS will shortly publish plans to help make the health service the best place to work, in a bid to attract and retain more nurses and other clinical staff.

2020 sees the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, and has been designated international Year of the Nurse and Midwife, a worldwide celebration of the huge contribution made by all those who have followed in her footsteps.

Nurses and midwives will be central to delivering the improvements and expansion of care and treatment for patients set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, published at the beginning of the year.

Over the last 12 months alone, the NHS has delivered a number of firsts, including opening new clinics for children with gambling and gaming addictions, providing new treatments for conditions like cystic fibrosis, and funding miracle cures to restore children’s sight.

In a Christmas message recorded at St Thomas’s hospital, where Nightingale founded the first school of modern nursing, NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said: “There’s never been a more exciting and important time to follow in her footsteps.

“Those who are now signing up to a nursing degree over the next few weeks are going to get extra financial support when they start their courses in September.

“And to those who’ve taken time out from nursing or midwifery, now is a great time to think about re-joining the NHS in 2020.

“The NHS is central to so many of our communities across the country, whether it’s the local pharmacy, the GP surgery or the local hospital. But at the heart of all that we do, and what makes the NHS unique, is our people.”

The NHS chief executive praised staff for all their hard work throughout 2019 and said a special thank you to all those working over the Christmas break.

An estimated 12,000 midwives across the country who are expected to welcome around 1,400 babies into the world on Christmas Day.

Another 98,000 nurses and 55,000 nursing assistants will be working in hospitals and in the community over the bank holidays while around 12,000 ambulance staff, including paramedics, will be on duty on Christmas day.

Hospital catering staff will serve up an estimated 400,000 Christmas dinners to ensure staff, patients and their families don’t miss out on their festive favourites.

And some 145,000 care workers and home carers will also be providing care like any other day.

Simon Stevens said: “At the end of another busy year, on behalf of the whole NHS, I want to say thank you to all of our brilliant staff, particularly those who are working over the Christmas period.

“Hundreds of thousands of nurses, cooks, doctors, cleaners, porters, paramedics, midwives, countless others, sacrificing time with their own loved ones to take care of our patients and their families.”