Nurse recruitment campaign launches on NHS’s 70th anniversary

We Are the NHS campaign aims to increase NHS nursing applications by 22,000 
We are the NHS campaign NHS England

We Are the NHS campaign aims to increase NHS nursing applications by 22,000 

A multi-million pound campaign to recruit more nurses in England has begun in the week the NHS celebrates its 70th anniversary.

The £8 million We Are the NHS campaign will put the spotlight on nursing, prioritising mental health, learning disability and community and general practice nurses.

Funded by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care, the campaign will feature TV and radio advertising, as well as posters and social media, and will target school children aged 14-18. 

It is hoped the recruitment drive will double the number of nurses returning to practice and improve retention of staff in all areas, while increasing the total number of applications to work in the NHS by 22,000.

According to NHS England, more than 34,000 nursing vacancies, of which 6,000 were in mental health nursing and 1,500 in community nursing, were reported in England between April and September 2017. However, the RCN puts the number of nursing vacancies even higher, at 40,000.

‘Most loved’

England’s chief nursing officer Jane Cummings said: ‘The NHS is our country’s most loved institution, and this is down to the expert skill, dedication and compassion of its brilliant staff.

‘Nurses and midwives provide expert skilled care and compassion, and they are highly talented leaders in the NHS.

'This campaign is all about inspiring young people and others who want a change of career to come and work for the NHS, and have a rewarding and fulfilling career that makes a real difference.'

Professor Cummings pointed out the range of careers available in the NHS, and said nursing and midwifery provide unique opportunities for people to make ‘a difference to people’s lives in a way that simply cannot be matched.’

NHS England is leading work with more than 800 nursing and midwifery ambassadors to try to change perceptions about the professions, and help parents, teachers and young people view nursing and midwifery as a career of choice.

Highly rewarding

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘Future nurses who are inspired this summer will help the NHS to reach its first century and beyond.

‘This powerful campaign marks a turning point, but the focus on the next generation needs to continue long after the birthday candles have gone out. 

‘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.’

Trusted and respected

According to a public poll carried out ahead of the campaign, nurses and doctors are the most trusted and respected professions in the country.

Three-quarters of the 2,165 people surveyed chose nurses and doctors as professions they trust the most and seven in 10 people said they were some of the most important roles in society.

But most of the public surveyed did not know the wide range of careers available to nurses.

Only 3% knew that nurses can work in mental health and one third could not name a nursing role outside hospital, such as the district nurse. 

Professor Cummings said the survey findings show why young people should feel inspired to choose a career in the NHS, but that more needed to be done to highlight the vast range of opportunities available for talented and dedicated people. 


The poll also found demonstrable differences in parents’ expectations for sons and daughters. 

Only four in ten parents said they would be proud of their son being a nurse and three in ten were unable to name nursing roles other than those based in hospitals.

Further findings suggest parents are unaware of the skills and opportunities available in 21st century nursing.

Most saw nurses first and foremost as ‘caring’, but far fewer saw them as ‘leaders’, ‘innovators’ or ‘academics’.

Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘Being a nurse or midwife in the NHS is one of the most exciting and fulfilling careers anyone can undertake.

‘I want this campaign to inspire people to take up a career in the NHS and help boost the number of home grown nurses and midwives.’

In the autumn, the DH will run a national adult social care recruitment campaign.

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