Tens of thousands of new healthcare support workers are set to join the NHS, following successful recruitment drives across the country.
Since the end of January, NHS trusts reported that almost 35,000 job offers have been made, with over 25,000 already starting as healthcare support workers – with 9,000 being new to healthcare.
A nationwide recruitment drive earlier this year saw almost 4,000 “on-the-spot” job offers made to people attending events between March and May to help boost support for patients, families and staff.
The recruitment campaign, in collaboration with hiring platform Indeed, ran in several major cities across the country with Manchester, London, Bristol and Leeds hosting.
Local careers fairs were aimed at people who don’t currently work in the care sector, people looking to return to work after a break or looking for a career change, with the roles open to those without previous care experience or qualifications.
Healthcare support workers undertake hundreds of vital roles within the NHS, helping to support patients through their treatment and assisting nurses, midwives and other healthcare professionals in a wide range of healthcare settings.
As the health service prepares for winter, NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard welcomed the new recruits and said they will be at the “heart of wards, clinics and local communities” supporting existing NHS staff in caring for hundreds of thousands of patients every single day.
The NHS has already set out steps to prepare for winter including through boosting bed capacity and increasing the number of call handlers working in NHS 111 and 999.
NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard, said: “Healthcare support workers are at the heart of wards, clinics and local communities up and down the country, and I am delighted to welcome every new recruit as they will play an integral part in caring for patients as we continue to make progress on the COVID-19 backlogs and prepare for winter.
“NHS staff are already working incredibly hard with pressure on various fronts and as we prepare for the winter period, additional healthcare support workers will be a huge support in helping deliver the plans we have already set out – from boosting bed capacity to increasing call handlers in NHS 111 and 999.
“It has never been easier to join the NHS team, so whether you’re looking for a career change or just starting out, I would encourage you to look for an event in your area or search ‘NHS careers’ today as thousands of people have done over the last few months”.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Boosting domestic and international recruitment is vital for our efforts to prepare the NHS for what could be a challenging winter ahead, while we work at pace to bust the COVID backlogs.
“Thanks to a nationwide recruitment drive, the NHS is already benefiting from an additional 25,000 healthcare support workers who will ensure patients get the care they deserve and help existing staff to deliver more rapid and effective treatments across our health system in roles such as nursing assistants, theatre support workers and maternity support workers.
“A career in health can be incredibly rewarding, and I would encourage anyone who is interested to search ‘NHS careers’ to find out more about opportunities in their area”.
Chief Nursing Officer, Ruth May, said: “The last two and a half years have really shone a light on the extraordinary efforts of our workforce, as their skill, professionalism and tireless work made sure that hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 patients received treatment while continuing to care for millions of others.
“I’m delighted we are seeing more people joining us in in healthcare support worker roles – working in the NHS is a fulfilling and hugely rewarding career and I welcome everyone who has accepted an offer to join us”.
Chris Hyams, CEO at the leading hiring platform Indeed, said: “Indeed’s mission is to help people get jobs and we’re proud to have helped thousands of people move quickly into NHS roles.
“The last two years have been difficult for everyone and it has been truly humbling to see the joy on people’s faces after receiving on-the-day job offers from the health service.
“Healthcare support workers play a vital role in society and it is clear from the values and compassion we saw from candidates that this is only the beginning of a new and rewarding career in care”.
The campaign has recently been shortlisted for the Best Recruitment Experience Award at the 2022 Nursing Times Workforce Awards, recognising the innovation, collaboration and impact that this campaign has had in recruiting invaluable new recruits to the NHS workforce.
The pandemic also highlighted the hard work NHS staff carry out every day with over 10,000 healthcare support workers joining in the first three months of 2021 as a result of the “Nightingale effect”.
One of the people hired at the Plymouth event in March is Ridwan Adebakin, who works at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust.
Discussing his experiences, Ridwan said: “I really enjoyed the recruitment event. I heard about the events from a friend, I’m really passionate about care so I decided to attend.
“I was nervous because there were a lot of people there. But everyone was very professional, the interview went well and it was very exciting when I was offered the job.
“I come from Nigeria and had done research on the NHS, so knew about its reputation as one of the best healthcare employers in the world. I’ve always been passionate about care so when I arrived in the UK in January, I had the ambition to join the NHS”.
Ridwan has never worked in the care sector before but explained his new job has been very interesting with each day seeing him carrying out a varied range of activities relating to patient care.
Mother and daughter, Husna Khatun and Hanifa Begum, recently joined the NHS off the back of a recruitment event and after speaking to NHS staff about their experiences.
Hanifa, who used to work in a warehouse with Husna, now works at an inpatient ward in Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust and helps provide care for females with a variety of mental health needs.
Husna said: “We wanted a career where we could get job satisfaction from helping people.
“Hanifa and I visited a recruitment event with my youngest daughter hearing about it through her university, we only went to support her but the pair of us got talking to staff and were interviewed the same day.
“I didn’t realise how much background training is needed but it’s been good, I’ve learnt most of the job before I started on my ward which made me feel better prepared, and I didn’t feel as though I was just thrown in to fend for myself.
“I’m loving being in an environment that helps me grow as a person and as an individual, I feel like I’m part of a family. It takes a real team to run a shift and everyone has each other’s back – I just know that I can rely on them through thick and thin”.
As well as hosting in-person events for those ready to start a career in the health service, the NHS has also been inspiring those nearing the end of their studies.
Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle hosts weekends with students from local secondary schools, where they are given the chance to speak to a range of medical professionals and get hands-on training experience within the hospital’s clinical education facility, with a view to starting a career in the health service when they leave school.
Search ‘NHS Careers’ or visit www.healthcareers.nhs.uk to find out more.