Coronavirus and the impending roll out of a vaccination programme has seen the NHS ramping up its recruitment drive throughout November. In order to meet increasing demand while also maintaining regular services, the NHS hopes to increase applications for direct entry jobs, building upon the existing 1.2 million-strong workforce. Given that many sectors have seen a sharp fall in hiring, working in healthcare offers a high degree of security with future demand only expected to increase.
Recent hiring statistics showed 112,149 active job postings for nurses alone – an increase of 39% since March. Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: “We hope this campaign will inspire even more people to consider a career in the NHS, which offers a huge range of opportunities for talented people whether they are looking for their first job or to kick start a new career.”
There’s a broad range of roles available within allied health professional specialisms, such as art and music therapists, dieticians and radiographers. While many roles require a degree, the pandemic has also created a huge need for support worker roles, which may suit those looking to begin a career in healthcare, or people who want to switch roles. The NHS already has more than 100,000 healthcare support workers who work across a range of settings, including mental health and learning disabilities.
Growing the healthcare workforce is key to government plans, and this means attracting people with transferable skills into the sector. Those who work within a wider community setting, for example, will play a crucial role in alleviating pressure on hospital services by ensuring that patients receive high-quality care in their own homes.
With testing of a new vaccine nearing completion, the NHS now faces the challenge of rolling out a vaccination programme as early as December. This will require a huge effort, and the Department for Health and Social Care recently changed the law to allow a wider group of staff to undertake training to deliver vaccines. This includes many allied health professionals, healthcare scientists and dental staff, as well as other individuals who are able to build extensively on their existing first aid training.
The need to roll out the programme while also keeping other medical services operational means that flexible, paid roles are open to many people. Clinical locums and qualified agency carers will be able to start on the first phase of the vaccination programme for the most vulnerable. The vaccination programme will also create mass production, distribution and deployment opportunities. The Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept at -70°C, and will require cold chain distribution and storage. Agencies catering to these segments should be liaising with clients about how best to prepare their candidates.
The government has recently confirmed over £500 million of additional funding to extend the Infection Control Fund to March 2021. This is in addition to the £3.7 billion in emergency funding for local authorities, and the £588 million for discharge as part of the £3 billion NHS winter funding to cover the costs of ongoing care for the remainder of the financial year.
Rishi Sunak has also faced pressure to confirm a pay raise for NHS workers despite the public sector pay freeze. Delivering his Spending Review this week, the Chancellor said the “majority” of the UK’s public sector workers will see their pay increase in 2021. 2.1 million public sector workers earning below the median wage of £24,000 are “guaranteed a pay rise.”
Healthcare demand in the coming months and well into next year will ensure that qualified workers who want to top up their wage with agency hours can do so. Contractors who have seen demand fall in their sector, or workers who have become redundant, are encouraged to think about how their skills might be utilised in healthcare and its wider support infrastructure, such as housekeeping, IT, and finance.
Job listings can be found and on the Adzuna COVID-19 job page or on NHS Jobs. For more on the latest economic and hiring news see here. If you’re starting a new contract, ContractingWISE has a range of hassle-free services that can help you set up a fast and efficient payroll. To talk to a member of our team, call: 0203 642 8679