Thousands more nurses will look to be recruited to hospitals, mental health and community trusts across England following a multi-million-pound funding boost.
Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May has written to nurse leaders in England, setting out the support available to help accelerate recruitment.
It comes as the NHS continues to respond to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, restarting routine services and preparing for winter – with both annual winter pressures and a potential rise in Covid-19 cases expected to significantly challenge the health service.
The new financial offer includes a £28m fund to support international nurses and midwives who are waiting in the wings to join their frontline NHS colleagues.
Ms May said: “Thousands of nurses from across the globe had their plans to join the NHS derailed by coronavirus, but overseas nurses have now started to travel to the UK and take up positions in hospitals and other trusts.
“This international recruitment fund will help NHS organisations pay for additional costs incurred because of coronavirus, including accommodation, flights and quarantine.
“This has been the most challenging year in NHS history and nurses and midwives have stepped up in ways never seen before. Their efforts throughout this global pandemic have inspired a whole new generation of people to take up a career in the NHS.”
International recruitment forms one part of the NHS People Plan, as the health service looks to boost its nursing and midwifery numbers.
A £1.7m fund has also been made available to regional nursing teams to recruit healthcare support workers in NHS organisations with the highest vacancy rates.
In addition, trusts are being encouraged to make the most of the 6,000 nurses who signed up to a temporary register and have now completed pre-employment checks.
According to the latest NHS Digital data, there are now more than 300,000 nurses in England after more than 13,442 nurses joined the NHS. And this year there was a 22% increase in applications for nursing degrees.