The NHS is today launching a multi-million pound TV advertising campaign with the aim of recruiting thousands of nurses during its landmark 70th year.
The new £8m campaign, funded by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care, has been billed by health service leaders as the biggest recruitment drive in its 70 year history.
“This campaign is all about inspiring young people and others who want a change of career to come and work for the NHS”
Primarily targeting school children aged 14-18, the We are the NHS campaign will feature TV and radio advertising, posters and social media.
It will highlight the opportunities available for potential new recruits, initially putting the spotlight on nursing, said NHS England.
Key areas currently facing the worst shortages, including mental health, learning disability and community and general practice nursing, will be prioritised.
There were over 34,000 nursing vacancies reported in England between April to September 2017, with over 6,000 in mental health and 1,500 in community nursing at the end of the year.
The campaign aims to increase the total number of applications into the NHS by 22,000 as well as doubling the numbers of nurses returning to practice and improve retention of staff in all sectors.
“Being a nurse or midwife in the NHS is one of the most exciting and fulfilling careers anyone can undertake”
It will recognise the “incredible contribution and impact of NHS staff who treat over one million patients every 24 hours across the country in GP surgeries, hospitals and at home”.
While launching the campaign, NHS leaders cited new market research reinforcing the “special place that its staff hold in the nation’s heart”.
Nurses and doctors topped a public poll as the most trusted and respected professions in the country, according to research carried out for the campaign.
Three quarters of those surveyed chose nurses and doctors as professions they trusted the most and seven in ten people said they were some of the most important roles in society.
However, the research suggested the majority of the public surveyed did not know the wide range of careers available working as a nurse, noted NHS England.
For example, it said only 3% knew that nurses worked in mental health and one third could not name a nursing role outside of hospital like district nurses.
“Future nurses who are inspired this summer will help the NHS to reach its first century”
Further findings suggested that the public was largely unaware of the skills and opportunities available in 21st century nursing.
The vast majority saw nurses first and foremost as “caring” but far fewer saw them as “leaders”, “innovators” and “academics”.
In addition, despite having respect from the public, the campaign research revealed demonstrable differences in parents’ expectations for sons and daughters.
Only four in 10 parents said they would be proud of their son being a nurse and three in 10 were unable to name roles that they can work in other than hospitals.
The survey was conducted by Kantar Public among a representative sample 2,165 of the general public in England aged 16 and over between 19 and 25 June.
Chief nursing officer for England Professor Jane Cummings said the survey findings showed that more needed to be done to highlight the vast range of opportunities available in the NHS.
England’s chief nurse to oversee health service in the capital
She said: “The NHS is our country’s most loved institution and that is down to the expert skill, dedication and compassion of its brilliant staff.
“Nursing and midwifery make up the largest part of the workforce and as I know from personal experience, provides a unique opportunity to make a real difference to peoples’ lives in a way that simply cannot be matched,” she said.
She added: “This campaign is all about inspiring young people and others who want a change of career to come and work for the NHS and have a rewarding and fulfilling career that makes a real difference.”
Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt, said: “Being a nurse or midwife in the NHS is one of the most exciting and fulfilling careers anyone can undertake.
“I want this campaign to inspire people to take up a career in the NHS and help boost the number of home grown nurses and midwives,” he said.
Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Future nurses who are inspired this summer will help the NHS to reach its first century and beyond.
“Patients get the majority of their care from nurses and the next generation will be at the forefront of innovation,” she said.
The head of analysis at NHS Providers, Phillippa Hentsch, said: “Recruiting and retaining the right level of staff is now the biggest issue for NHS trusts.
“Nurses are an extremely valuable part of the NHS workforce,” she said. “We are pleased that the Department of Health and Social Care is working with NHS England to promote the variety of nursing careers and supporting trusts by highlighting why the NHS is a great place to work for nurses.”
As well as the recruitment campaign, NHS England highlighted that it was leading work with over 800 nursing and midwifery “ambassadors”
Through visits to schools, the ambassadors are working to change the perceptions and help parents, teachers and young people see nursing and midwifery as a career of choice, it said.
Meanwhile, in the autumn, the Department of Health and Social Care will run an adult social care recruitment campaign to raise the profile of the sector and attract people to consider it as a career.