Why Not Nurse?

Why Not Nurse?

By Ed Hanna

The NHS launched its biggest ever recruitment drive in July. We look specifically at the role that some say is the lifeblood of the NHS: nursing.

Most patients that require treatment or therapy will usually be dealt with by a nurse. While doctors may review, analyse and diagnose, it’s the nursing staff that roll up their sleeves and get to work. From mundane stuff like fl uffi ng pillows behind your head to tricky tasks like inserting IV lines, they’re at work throughout the Health Service.

According to NHS England, nurses and doctors topped a recent public poll as the most trusted and respected professions in the country, with 70% of those surveyed saying they were some of the most important roles in Society. The research was carried out for the new recruitment campaign, ‘We are the NHS’.


The campaign highlights the vast range of opportunities available in the NHS for potential new recruits and will initially focus on nursing, with priorities including mental health, learning disability and community and general practice nurses.

The overall aim is to increase the total number of applications to the NHS by 22,000 as well as double the numbers of nurses returning to practice and improving retention of staff.

One of the main areas where the NHS is looking to save money is in spending on agency nurses, with recent reports suggesting that the NHS is forking out almost £1.5bn on their services every year. According to the study, undertaken by the Open University, the lion’s share is used on temp workers – with the same amount being enough to pay for 66,000 full-time staff.


It is also thought that shortages have been made worse by a 28% rise in EU nurses leaving the UK since the Brexit referendum of 2016, while at the same time overseas applications have almost halved in the same period.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) recognises that staffi ng shortages in the NHS are a source of huge pressure. RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, Janet Davies said that “This campaign can break that cycle,” adding: “Nursing is a job like no other and the difference you make to people’s lives is very visible and highly rewarding. Patients get the majority of their care from nurses and the next generation will be at the forefront of innovation.”

The careers website: www.healthcareers.nhs.uk is also encouraging and suggests that nursing is the UK’s most employable degree subject, with 94% of students getting a job within six months of finishing their course; great news also for qualified Serviceleavers returning from careers with the Forces – or even for Service-leavers considering retraining for a second career, in healthcare.

Take your first step to a career in the NHS

Interested in finding out more about NHS career opportunities for ex-Armed Forces personnel? Check out the Step into Health website: www.militarystepintohealth.nhs.uk

Whether you are interested in catering, maintenance, administration, fi nance, communications, management, or a role in one of the clinical services, the Step into Health programme could be the first move towards a new civilian career in the NHS.

There are over 350 different careers in the NHS and there is a role for everyone with the right skills and values. You can enter the NHS whatever your background, previous work experience and qualifications. According to the website, once you are in the NHS, they will “Work with you to develop your career, and fulfi l your potential”.

“The Step into Health Programme has been created because the NHS recognises the transferable skills and cultural values that Armed Forces personnel develop when Serving, and how they are compatible with those required within NHS roles.”

New to nursing


The majority of nurses qualify by studying nursing to degree level, with courses known to include plenty of hands-on practical training in either hospital or other medical environments.

Undergraduates choose from four areas of study: adult nursing, paediatric nursing, learning disability nursing or mental health nursing (although there are degree courses available that allow students to select two areas).

Each university sets its own entry requirements for nursing degrees but you can expect it to be three A-levels (sometimes subject specifi ed) or equivalent plus GCSEs in English, maths and science (usually biology). Some universities offer courses with a foundation year for those without the necessary entry qualifi cations. Information from: www.healthcareers.nhs.uk


A Registered Nurses (RN) earn an average salary of £23,319 per year up to £36,179 depending on location and experience/skills. The skills that indicate an increase in pay are those involving case management and geriatrics or becoming a practice nurse.

Figures from: www.payscale.com