NHS launches recruitment drive for tens of thousands of nurses, amid record staff vacancies

The NHS is today launching its annual nationwide drive to recruit more nurses, with tens of thousands of vacancies across England.

England’s Chief Nurse today called on anyone looking for a lifechanging career to consider becoming a nurse, as new figures show that more than six in ten people are considering a career change over the next year.

Nursing degrees offer strong employment prospects in every part of the country, with 94% of graduates finding jobs within six months and more than 46,828 nursing, midwifery, and health visiting vacancies in the NHS in England alone.

The ‘We are the NHS’ campaign will shine a light on the wealth of NHS nursing roles available, featuring real life patients sharing their stories of how nurses from across the health service helped them on their journey to recovery.

From today, new campaign adverts will run across on demand services, radio, social media and in cinemas, with two films featuring the powerful stories of patients during their time in hospital and recovery aided by NHS nurses.

The renewed drive comes as a new survey reveals eight in 10 people say nurses have made a positive impact in their life.

Nursing in the NHS offers a huge and diverse range of different roles and responsibilities, helping people from all walks of life, from learning disabilities and mental health to paediatrics and social care, and working across the community not just hospitals and GP practices, but also patient homes, schools and even prisons.

Alongside increased investment for degrees and placements, NHS recruitment campaigns have prompted a surge in applicants to healthcare degrees in recent years, with more undergraduate nurses than before the pandemic and data showing that nursing applications have increased by more than a quarter, from 40,770 to 52,150*, since 2019.

NHS staff are preparing for a challenging winter period with the combined impact of flu, covid and record vacancies with plans announced last week to boost capacity further across the country.

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: “Nursing is a life-changing profession where no two days are ever the same, and I would encourage anyone with a passion for making a difference to people’s lives to consider a career as a nurse.

“From life-saving tests and checks and delivering millions of Covid and flu vaccinations, to getting people back on their feet as the NHS cuts 18 month waits and cares for the thousands of seriously ill patients in hospitals and across our communities, nurses play a vital role.

“As we approach the winter months and NHS services gear up to manage higher demand, it’s clear the difference that nurses make to the health service every day, and I urge anyone considering a career where they want to really make a difference to find out more.

“I am so proud to be a nurse in the NHS and so proud of every single colleague who has risen to the challenges facing the health service in recent years to continue to deliver the very best care to patients and their families. It truly is one of the most rewarding jobs you can do.

“From mental health to A&E, community and children’s services – there are countless roles, specialisms and opportunities across the nursing profession which all make an invaluable contribution to patients and the NHS and social care every day, so if you are considering beginning a career in nursing, I know we will have the right role waiting for you”.

Minister of State for Health Robert Jenrick said: “Nurses play an integral role in our society and do a fantastic job of taking care of people – a career in nursing is hugely rewarding and has a variety of career paths so you too can make a difference to people’s lives.

“Those who join will help to bolster the workforce, which already has over 9,100 more nurses compared to last year – and with over 29,000 more working in the NHS now compared to September 2019, we are over halfway to delivering on our commitment to have 50,000 more nurses in the NHS by 2024.

“I encourage everyone to consider joining the NHS’s growing nursing workforce and see first-hand how you can make a positive impact to the world around you.”

Ben Tansley, 32, is part of the ad campaign. Ben was in a motorbike accident in 2017, which left him with severe injuries to his spinal cord, and was told that he would probably never walk again. Despite being confined to his bed for six weeks, and spending a total of three months in hospital, Ben remained adamant on sticking to his goal of getting home to his children for Christmas.

Through perseverance and rehabilitation, Ben is now able to walk for short periods of time before returning to his wheelchair, and even completed the Berlin Marathon in his wheelchair shortly after coming out of hospital.

Ben is now a motivational speaker and gym-owner who chronicles his journey and progress on social media. He refuses to let his injury stop him from being the same dad he was before and continues to be an amazing parent to his two children.

Ben, said: “I became paralysed in a motorcycle accident in 2017. Every aspect of care I received was incredible – from the moment I was airlifted from the roadside to the support I received in hospital. I owe the NHS my life!

“In particular, a dedicated team of nurses looked after me and supported me on my journey to recovery. I would encourage anyone considering a career in nursing to do it – you could change someone’s life. They have allowed me to continue doing what I do best – being a dad!”

The latest stats show that there are now more than 1.3 million people working for the NHS, a rise of almost 30,000 since June 2020.

Nursing graduates are amongst the most employable of healthcare workers, with 94% in work within six months of completing their degree, and the opportunity to specialise in a range of disciplines, including mental health, community care and paediatrics.

Vania has been a nurse at The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust for three years and stars in the adverts. After initially studying to become a physio, she began a volunteering role working with children with disabilities. It’s there that she discovered her passion and skill for working with children and started to look for a role where she could do this full time and be more hands in on their development.

Once Vania started her nursing degree she knew nursing was the career for her. Vania is now a paediatric nurse in a surgical and orthopaedic hospital treating children with a range of conditions, including cancer.

Vania, said: “Once I started my nursing degree, I knew it was the career for me. I’m never bored and I love being able to engage in a range of activities, like performing medical procedures and creating treatment plans.

“I love being able to interact with and treat patients every day, as well as being a support for their family and friends. Nursing changed my life and I love the impact it is has on so many people. I would encourage anyone to consider a career as a nurse in the NHS”.

As part of the campaign, the NHS have also launched a questionnaire to raise awareness of the number of different nursing roles available with potential candidates able to take part to find out which nursing role they would be best suited to.

Annual payments of at least £5,000 are available to student nurses and midwives and those studying degrees related to allied health professions, such as speech and language therapy or occupational therapy.

For more information and to find out more about the range of nursing, allied health professionals, and healthcare support worker roles available within the NHS, search We are the NHS.