The country’s most senior health professionals are urging young people to consider a career in the NHS.
The health chiefs have written an open letter in which they call on people to think about joining the “biggest care team in the world”.
The letter, from chief nursing officer Ruth May, NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis and Suzanne Rastrick, the NHS’s chief allied health professions officer, comes as the NHS marks the 73rd anniversary of its foundation.
In their letter, they wrote: “The coronavirus pandemic, the greatest health emergency in NHS history, has shone a light on the amazing work of our nurses, doctors, pharmacists, therapists, porters, cleaners and countless other staff as never before.
“Thanks to their dedication and skill, the NHS has cared for around 400,000 seriously ill Covid patients requiring hospital treatment and millions more with other conditions.
“The ranks of staff have been swelled by more than 200,000 people who joined up to do their bit in the country’s hour of need.
“But with the pandemic response entering the recovery phase and as we tackle new challenges like long Covid, the NHS is looking for more talented and committed staff who will go the extra mile for patients and their families.
“As the NHS marks its 73rd birthday, we are asking young people wondering what path to take, and anyone thinking about a career change, to consider joining us.
“There are more than 350 different roles on offer and whichever one you pick – while we cannot promise it will always be easy – it will be one of the most rewarding decisions you ever make.”
Meanwhile, Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said the Government needs to boost pay for NHS staff and put forward “a coherent vision for the future”.
Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “Today, on its 73rd birthday, the NHS is at a post-pandemic crossroads and is in urgent need of a massive investment programme over the next decade to staunch the ‘recruitment and retention’ crisis and tackle the backlog of millions of non-Covid operations and procedures.
“The NHS has an estimated 100,000 vacancies, including 40,000 nursing posts – and one way to tackle this ever-growing problem is to substantially boost the pay of NHS staff.
“If the new Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid is unable to obtain a lot more cash from the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay for the health service, the NHS will be a pale shadow of the great Covid-fighting health service we know and love in five years’ time.”
He said NHS staff are exhausted after 16 months of caring for patients during the pandemic, and referred to the resignation of the nurse who looked after Boris Johnson when he was seriously ill with Covid-19.
Jenny McGee, who cared for the Prime Minister in intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London, cited the Government’s 1% pay offer and its lack of respect for the profession.
Mr Jarrett-Thorpe said: “Unless the insulting 1% recommendation from the Government is greatly increased, this could be the last straw for many dedicated staff.
“The reform of social care into a well-funded and integrated service has been ‘the elephant in the room’ for successive governments – on the day he became prime minister Boris Johnson pledged he had a plan ‘to fix’ social care.
“However, like a lot of his promises, it has, so far, failed to materialise in any tangible form.
“The NHS was founded in 1948 to be a service free at the point of delivery for all those in need – today the Government needs to strongly reaffirm those principles with hard cash and a coherent vision for the future.”