Consider NHS career, urge health chiefs, after year like no other

The country’s top nurse, most senior doctor and the leader of other health professionals have issued a joint call for people to consider joining the NHS, as health chiefs gather to mark a year like no other, on the 73rd anniversary of the service’s foundation.

Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May, NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis and Suzanne Rastrick, the NHS’s Chief Allied Health Professions Officer, have written an open letter urging young people preparing for the world of work and others contemplating a career change to think about joining the “biggest care team in the world”.

The letter comes as NHS staff who have played leading roles in the NHS response to the pandemic, and some of the patients they cared for, gather at St Paul’s Cathedral in London for a service of commemoration and thanksgiving.

The health chiefs note that 200,000 people have joined the NHS to do their bit as the COVID pandemic has shone a light on the amazing work of its staff.

Applications for medical degrees have also jumped by a fifth to 28,690 and those for nursing degrees have risen by a third to 60,130.

In their letter published today, the health chiefs say: “with the pandemic response entering the recovery phase and as we tackle new challenges like long COVID, the NHS is looking for more talented and committed staff who will go the extra mile for patients and their families.

“As the NHS marks its 73rd birthday, we are asking young people wondering what path to take, and anyone thinking about a career change, to consider joining us.

“There are more than 350 different roles on offer and whichever one you pick – while we cannot promise it will always be easy – it will be one of the most rewarding decisions you ever make.

“So, as we look back with pride on 73 years after the toughest time in our history, and forward to the future, we urge you to consider joining the biggest care team in the world. Please search NHS Careers online today.”

The call comes ahead of the St Paul’s service, which will be led by the Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s and the Right Reverend and Right Honourable Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London.

NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens will deliver an address recognising the dedication and commitment of all those who have played their part in combating coronavirus across the NHS, care sector and beyond.

Dr Ashley Price, a member of the team who treated the very first patients with the coronavirus in this country, and May Parsons, who administered the first vaccine outside of a trial, will take part in the socially distanced service.

Dr Perpetual Uke, a rheumatology consultant from Birmingham who gave birth to twins while in a coma with COVID-19, and Kathrine Dawson, who also gave birth and was in a coma with the virus and whose baby Ruby was born with it, will also have roles in the service.

Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, Saïd Professorship of Vaccinology at the Jenner Institute, who designed the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine and Professor Sir Peter Horby, who helped run the NHS trial that found the first effective treatment for COVID-19, dexamethasone, will be among those attending.

Speaking on the 73rd birthday, NHS chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, said: “During COVID-19, NHS staff have once again shown their exceptional skill, dedication and compassion. While there’s no doubt that this year has been incredibly tough for everyone, the response of NHS staff has been a beacon of hope, reassurance and optimism for the whole country.

“It’s therefore no surprise that the inspirational example of frontline health care staff delivering care throughout the pandemic has prompted thousands more not just to volunteer their support, but to kick off their own career in the NHS.

“Speaking personally, I know that joining the NHS over thirty years ago is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and today – as we mark the 73rd birthday of the NHS – we invite others thinking about their career choices to join us. Because a career in the health service – in one of the hundreds of vital roles on offer – is a positive and life-changing way of making a big difference to the health and happiness of people across the country.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The NHS is our national symbol of hope, pride, and community spirit. The pandemic brought us fresh challenges but the NHS rose to meet them head on with expert skill, commitment and bravery. I am truly humbled as Prime Minister to today mark 73 years of our NHS, which has saved so many lives. This great institution offers many fantastically fulfilling career routes and I urge anyone with the drive and talent to sign up to make a difference and change lives.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Despite the exceptional pressure they’ve been under, the incredible staff working in our NHS have put patients first throughout the pandemic and continued to deliver excellent care.

“There are more doctors and nurses working in the NHS than ever before and it’s hugely inspiring to see so many people choosing a career in the health service.

“There has never been a more important time to join the NHS and for those who want to make a real difference to people’s lives – no better job.”

The ‘We Are The NHS campaign’ is running for a third year and highlights the rewarding and diverse range of roles available within the NHS including opportunities in nursing and health care support workers.

The campaign also looked to recruit Allied Health Professionals such as paramedics, orthoptists, speech and language therapists and physiotherapists.

The NHS is encouraging anyone inspired to join the health service to search NHS Careers to find the right role for them.

Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director for the NHS in England, said: “The incredible compassion, skill and pure hard work NHS staff perform every day has been centre stage for the past 18 months so it is no surprise that thousands more people are feeling inspired to join the best workforce in the world.

“The NHS is more than just doctors and nurses and there are so many exciting roles available, many of which do not require a formal medical qualification, from porters and cleaners to catering staff and IT analysts.

“So as we celebrate 73 years of our wonderful NHS, I urge all of you who have been inspired this past year to visit our website and take a look at the 25,000 roles currently available, and we look forward to welcoming you to one of the most rewarding jobs you can do.”

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: “Joining the NHS was the best decision I ever made, and it is fantastic to see so many people applying to study healthcare, as well as thousands beginning careers in the best workforce in the world.

“The NHS’ greatest asset is its staff and with more than 350 different types of roles, there is bound to be a role perfect for anybody, so whether you’re fed up with your nine to five office job or in the last few weeks of school, please consider joining the NHS.”


The public can apply for any one of the thousands of jobs available in the NHS through the NHS jobs website or the NHS careers website.

For those interested in nursing, medical or other NHS careers that require a degree, you can apply for the 2022/23 academic year through UCAS. The deadline for medical degrees is 15 October 2021. For other degrees, applicants must complete their application by 26 January 2022 deadline.

People can also apply for degrees for the 2021 academic year by registering with UCAS today and applying through clearing from 5 July.