England’s chief nurse has urged students who have just received their A-Level results to apply to study nursing.
Ruth May has appealed to around 80,000 students who are taking part in the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) clearing process, which offers places on degree courses for those who want to change their plans.
Although applications to study nursing this year are up 15% in the UK, nursing leaders have warned that this is not enough to fix shortages. Latest NHS Digital figures show there are currently around 36,000 vacant nursing posts in England.
In a statement following A-Level results day on 13 August, the chief nurse said that ‘uncertain times lay ahead’ but added that ‘the country and the NHS will always need nurses’, encouraging students to sign up.
She continued: ‘Even if a Covid-19 vaccine is found the NHS will still need all the staff it can get to help deliver on our Long-Term Plan to save more lives and improve the country’s health.
‘So, whoever you are, whatever your background and wherever you want to go: your NHS needs you, so search ‘Nursing Careers’ today.’
NHS England said it is targeting students entering the clearing system with direct emails to 50,000 people and adverts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
Grants of between £5,000 and £8,000 to cover living costs will be available for nursing students starting in September 2020, the Government previously announced.
The Government has also committed to growing the nursing workforce by 50,000, although this pledge has been criticised for including the retention of existing staff.
A-Level results day has been mired in controversy this year with about 40% of results downgraded after the exams regulator Ofqual used an algorithm based on schools’ previous results to calculate grades.