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NHS England launches next phase of national nurse recruitment drive


NHS England has today launched the next phase of its nurse recruitment campaign, with a fresh focus on mental health, learning disability and community nursing.

The £8m drive – We are the NHS – kicked off in July to coincide with the 70th birthday of the health service and involved TV and radio advertising, posters and social media.

“A recruitment drive alone will not solve the ongoing raft of problems we face”

Donna Kinnair

NHS England is running the campaign in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care and Health Education England.

It said more than a quarter of a million people had visited the campaign website in the last three months to learn more about a career in nursing.

This next wave will specifically target students starting their final year of A-levels or those taking a year out before university, and will highlight courses and careers in mental health, learning disability and community nursing as well as allied health professions ahead of university applications for 2019.

It will include short films to be shared on social media showing specialist nurses on the frontline caring for patients.

Filming for the second wave of the campaign took place at four NHS trusts: Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust, South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust and North East London NHS Foundation Trust.

It comes after latest figures released by NHS Digital yesterday showed the number of learning disability nurses in the health service had hit a record low and mental health nurses have declined by 12% since 2009.

The national campaign aims to increase the total number of applications into the NHS by 90,000 as well as to double the numbers of nurses returning to practice and improve retention of staff in all sectors.


The campaign is being supported by more 1,250 ambassadors who are working locally to transform the perceptions of the nursing profession. 

Professor Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, said: “Nursing is an extremely diverse career that can offer many roles reaching every corner of the NHS, care, education and research sectors and is a chance to support and transform people’s lives.

“Those thinking of opting for nursing can choose from a rich variety of courses and jobs which will give them highly specialist knowledge and skills,”  she said.

“Wherever I’ve seen nurses at work in the NHS I’ve loved the camaraderie, dedication and commitment they’ve shown”

Matt Hancock

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Whenever and wherever I’ve seen nurses at work in the NHS I’ve loved the camaraderie, dedication and commitment they’ve shown.

“Life as a nurse in our NHS is hugely rewarding and more important, every nurse is part of something bigger than themselves, helping save lives and improve lives every single day and playing their part in making the NHS the country’s most loved institution,” he said.

However, Dame Donna Kinnair, acting chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, warned that the campaign was not enough to address the crisis facing the sector and called for safe staffing laws and a comprehensive workforce plan.

She also hit out at NHS England’s decision to highlight an increase in students choosing a nursing degree through the clearing process this year to demonstrate the success of the campaign, when overall there had been an 8% drop in students since 2016. 

“We welcome any attempt to increase the number of workers joining our health and social care system – understaffing is jeopardising safe and effective patient care, and with 40,000 NHS nursing vacancies in England alone it is clear the need is becoming desperate,” she said.

Royal College of Nursing

Leading nurse becomes patient safety charity patron

Source: Kate Stanworth

Donna Kinnair

“But a recruitment drive alone will not solve the ongoing raft of problems we face,” stated Dame Donna.

“NHS England highlights an increase in nursing students placed through clearing, but overall the latest UCAS figures show nursing student numbers in England have fallen 8% since bursary funding was removed in 2016,” she said.

“Fewer nurses are being trained, while more and more staff are nearing retirement age,” she said. “With Brexit looming we risk losing access to EU workers, severing yet another lifeline.”

She added: “To safeguard the future of safe and effective patient care, safe staffing legislation should be enshrined in law, underpinned by a comprehensive workforce plan that prioritises recruitment and retention and responds to population need.”



Readers' comments (2)

  • Nursing is "hugely rewarding," eh? In every way except monetarily. No amount of "hugely rewarding" can pay the mortgage, feed and clothe the kids, run the car etc. "Hugely rewarding" is no good, if all that the hugely rewarded can afford to do in their free time is sit home watching TV, clutching a mug of tea to keep warm.

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  • I want to work and can still work as a nurse. Lack of support from management has made demotivated and left and now I am jobless and I am living on the basics and nearing poverty.

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