Time to rethink making careers in the NHS attractive to people of all backgrounds

Karin Smyth MP has renewed calls for people from all backgrounds to be actively encouraged into careers in health and social care.

In a new article written for Progress this week, the Bristol South MP says more funding on its own is not enough to tackle the National Health Service’s nursing shortage.

Following the publication of figures showing that for the first time since 2008, more nurses and midwives are leaving the profession in the United Kingdom than joining it, the Labour MP said “It is time for us to explore how we can return to the idea of nursing as a highly attractive career for people from less affluent households who are well-equipped with aptitudes to do a great job in our NHS.”

And today (6 July) in the House of Commons she challenged Health Ministers to define clear career pathways between health and social care so that people who want to carry out these vital roles are encouraged to do so. Responding, Health Minister Steve Brine MP agreed, saying “it is imperative we get the right people into the sector.”

Watch the Commons exchange below

In her article, Karin Smyth wrote: “I meet many Bristol South constituents in their thirties and older the like of whom in years gone by would have been well set to join the NHS, using the range of skills they’d acquired through family, caring and employed roles.

“Often they aren’t clear how to enter healthcare professions for which they’d be very well suited. They know there’s a range of secure, well-paid roles with significant benefits, pensions and flexible working options. They know the demand for healthcare will always be there. But they don’t know how to find their way in.

We could do with a proper informed debate about how we attract people from all backgrounds to enter these professions; how we nurture and support them through a challenging set of career journeys. Those journeys may have different end points for different people, but could significantly alter the profile of who is attracted to these professions. It could usher a wider breadth of people with the right aptitudes, developing their skills and boosting the healthcare system we all rely on.”

You can read the article in full here