A national marketing campaign to recruit more nurses and ‘renew and refresh’ the public’s perception of the profession could start early next year.
Strategic health authority nursing directors in London and the West Midlands are jointly developing a marketing campaign for both regions.
The Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery is monitoring the development of the regional work, with a view to recommending that the government turn it into a nationwide nurse recruitment campaign.
This is likely to be launched shortly after the commission is scheduled to publish its final report to ministers in December.
When the commission was launched in March, a source close to the Prime Minister told Nursing Times that one of its priorities would be to look at nurse recruitment and the possibility of a campaign promoting nursing careers.
The government intends that such a campaign would mirror those that have been successful in recruiting teachers, police and army recruits in recent years.
Trish Morris-Thompson, director of nursing at NHS London, said that the SHA-level campaigns had been sparked by concerns that the public’s perception of nursing had suffered recently.
‘We started the work because we felt that we were on the cusp of a change in the general public’s perception of how they were being cared for and a change in the type of people being recruited into the profession,’ Ms Morris-Thompson told Nursing Times.
‘We want the public to be more confident in the nursing profession, we want nursing staff to be proud of what they do and we want to renew and refresh the profession, and get that respect back into the consciousness of the public,’ she added.
The two SHAs have started working with recruitment and marketing company Odgers, as well as external marketing consultants, to develop the recruitment campaign.
The campaign is set to include a pledge on what the public can expect from nurses. It could also include the development of a set of values and a nursing charter.
Clare Chapman, director general of workforce at the Department of Health, has previously said that the government was considering running a national advertising campaign to take advantage of talent from the wider workforce being available during the recession.
In an interview with Nursing Times in January, she said that, while managers in other sectors were making staff redundant, directors of nursing should be seeking to be active in the jobs market.
‘I think the credit crunch makes nursing even more attractive,’ she said. ‘Now is the time to do the really proactive recruitment campaigning because I think we’ll be able to attract people who wouldn’t necessarily have thought first that this is an opportunity.’
The NHS Workforce Review Team’s latest assessment of staffing priorities for the government and SHAs has warned that a ‘sharp reduction’ in total nursing student places, at both degree and diploma level, in England between 2005–2006 and 2007–2008 will result in fewer trainees coming through the system from 2009 onwards and lower numbers of newly qualified nurses than in previous years.
As Nursing Times revealed last month, a report by the National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College London highlighted the lack of school leavers entering nursing and recommended that the profession should look to other groups to fulfil its workforce requirements in future.