Chief nursing officer for England Ruth May is urging pupils going through clearing to sign up for the profession, as the NHS seeks to present itself as a “strong career choice in uncertain times”.
NHS England figures show there were 70 nursing, midwifery and health visitor vacancies at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – which runs The Northumbria Emergency Care Hospital, in Cramlington – at the end of March.
These are the latest available figures and the jobs were among 4,707 unfilled roles across the North East and Yorkshire.
The recruitment drive comes after the Government announced £172 million in funding to boost nursing apprenticeships to 2,000 a year as another route into the profession.
While nursing unions have welcomed the move, they say it does not go far enough and are calling for better pay, and for tuition fees for all nursing students to be scrapped.
According to the NHS, applications for nursing degrees surged 16% year-on-year to 47,320 by the end of June, with a “huge increase” in interest from those aged 20 and under during the pandemic.
Ms May said nurses have played a leading role in the fight against the coronavirus.
She added: “Uncertain times lie ahead, but one thing we can be sure of is that the country and the NHS will always need nurses, and that nursing will always offer a rewarding and varied career – making it a strong choice for any young people considering their options tomorrow.”
Mike Adams, the Royal College of Nursing’s director for England, welcomed the Government’s recruitment drive but added: “It does, however, fall short of the wider investment needed to educate enough registered nurses for the future.
“The full-time three-year nursing degree remains the best way to increase domestic nursing supply and the Government must abolish self-funded tuition fees for all nursing students if it is truly committed to delivering the 50,000 more nurses they promised.”