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A major drive to boost the NHS workforce is underway this week as students receive their exam results.
The head of the NHS today called on students considering their options to take up one of the thousands of places available at university for more than 900 NHS-related courses.
Speaking at a hospital in Milton Keynes earlier today, Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, encouraged students to “make the best and most rewarding decision” and sign up for a career in the health service.
Thousands of healthcare placements for nursing and other clinical and medical roles are set to be boosted by a £15 million package to bring in 5,000 more healthcare support workers for those considering leaving full time education.
Requiring no formal health background, healthcare support workers assist nurses, midwives and other healthcare professionals to carry out health checks, update patient records, help patients wash, dress and move around, and care for women and families in maternity services.
While many A-level students have already chosen nursing careers to start this September, others will be reconsidering options and the NHS is calling on students to consider a nursing or healthcare-related degree, with thousands of places available through clearing.
The call comes alongside record numbers of doctors and nurses working in the NHS with the number increasing by over 16,000 in the last year.
Amanda Pritchard, NHS England chief executive, said: “As students up and down the country collect their exam results over the next few days, I want to encourage everyone who has been inspired by the incredible work of NHS staff to consider a career in the health service.
“Whether you want to study at university, or go straight into work, there are various routes into the NHS and with more than 350 different roles to choose from – including healthcare support workers, podiatrists, porters or midwives – there really is something for everyone.
“It is brilliant to see that a record number of people have applied for healthcare degrees and combined with this additional investment in even more new roles, we are strengthening the NHS workforce and building a strong future for the health service and for our patients.
“After the last 18 months, I’ve never been prouder to be a part of the NHS, so if you want to join us and make a difference to patients, please search NHS Careers today.”
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, said: “With record numbers of acceptances on nursing, midwifery, medicine and dentistry university courses, the dedication healthcare professionals have shown during the pandemic has clearly inspired the next generation in our health service.
“I’d like to congratulate the thousands of students who have achieved the A Level results needed to kickstart their careers in the health and social care sector.
“As we build a better NHS and work to bust the backlog, these students are going to be the future of our greatest institution.”
The £15 million programme will mean new joiners will receive a fast track induction and training programme to help them hit the ground running as well as receiving pastoral support as they get to grips with working on the front line of the NHS.
All those considering the NHS for their future career are asked to search ‘NHS Careers’ to find out more.
And those who choose to attend university will benefit from financial support during their degrees, with a learning support fund available of between £5,000 and £8,000.
Students will also leave as some of the most employable graduates in the UK, with 94% of those who study nursing securing a job within six months.
One of those is Rebecca Hackfath who was inspired to study mental health nursing after being treated for an eating disorder in her late teens.
After graduating from De Montfort University this year, she has secured a job on the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust ward where she received inpatient care years earlier.
The number applying to study nursing at university this year has soared to 70,280 – up by one fifth compared to 2020.
And applications to medicine and dentistry courses are also up by a fifth, while there has been an increase of 19% to study Allied Health Professions.
As the biggest employer in Europe and the fifth largest in the world, there are currently around 1.3 million people working in the NHS in England, including 150,000 doctors, 330,000 nurses and midwives and 70,000 allied health professionals.
Expanding and supporting the workforce is also a key objective of the NHS Long Term Plan and employers will be particularly encouraged to have career-focused conversations with all new recruits.
Efforts will also be made to enhance induction programmes and the pastoral care offered to healthcare workers, ensuring they are maximising their potential and able to provide the highest quality care to patients.