The NHS has launched its annual nationwide drive to recruit more nurses as it tries to fill tens of thousands of vacancies across England.
But what is the ‘We are the NHS’ recruitment drive, what is the average salary and what are the nursing strikes? Here’s what you need to know.
What is the We are the NHS campaign?
The We are the NHS campaign spotlights the variety of NHS nursing roles on offer and features patients who tell of how nurses helped them towards recovery.
NHS England said more than six in 10 people are considering a career change over the next year, with nursing degrees offering strong employment prospects. It stated that 94% of nursing graduates are able to find jobs within six months. Currently, there are more than 46,828 nursing, midwifery, and health visiting vacancies in the NHS in England.
The roles on offer could see nurses working in different areas including with those who have learning disabilities, in mental health, paediatrics or social care. They could work across the community in hospitals, GP practices, patient homes, schools or possibly prisons.
NHS England said recruitment drives have helped increase the number of applicants to healthcare degrees in recent years, with the number of undergraduate nurses having risen from 40,770 to 52,150 since 2019.
As part of the campaign, the NHS has also launched a questionnaire to raise awareness of the number of different nursing roles available enabling potential candidates to find out which may be their best fit.
England’s chief nurse, Ruth May, said: “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.”
Health minister Robert Jenrick said: “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.”
How much do nurses get paid?
Fully qualified nurses start on salaries of £24,907 rising to £30,615 on Band 5 of the NHS Agenda for Change pay rates. Salaries in London attract a high-cost area supplement. Annual payments of at least £5,000 are also available to student nurses and midwives and those studying degrees related to allied health professions, such as speech and language therapy or occupational therapy.
Are nurses going on strike?
More than 400,000 health workers are being balloted for strike action, threatening a massive escalation of industrial unrest across the country as disputes over issues such as pay grow. Unison has announced that its members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, ranging from nurses and ambulance crews to hospital porters and cleaners, will vote in the coming weeks on whether to launch a strike campaign.
Members of other health unions, representing nurses, midwives, ambulance crews, and physiotherapists, are also being balloted for strike action. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is asking all of its UK members if they are willing to walk out over pay for the first time in its 106-year history. That ballot closes on Wednesday 2 November.
Patricia Marquis, the RCN’s director for England, said the We are the NHS campaign highlights a “rewarding” career but “it is all futile until nursing staff are paid a fair salary”.
The RCN is balloting its members on strike action and “there is anger and motivation like never before”.
She added: “Each and every day, nursing staff give everything they have to care for their patients but a decade of real-terms pay cuts means many can’t even afford to feed their children or put petrol in their car to get to work.”