NHS calls on ‘reservists’ to bolster staff numbers

Past employees and people with no experience are being urged to sign up to help the NHS.

01 March 2022

The health service is calling on people to sign up as an “NHS reservist” to help bolster staff numbers and tackle the backlog of care.

The new programme is not just aimed at former health professionals but also people with no experience of healthcare work.

Thousands of people will be paid for their help and will be expected to work around 30 days of the year.

Roles will vary depending on experience but the NHS said work could include helping people who are being discharged from hospital or playing a role in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Training will be provided and people who have never worked in health services will be given the chance to “buddy up” and shadow someone already performing the role they are assigned to.

The programme was announced by NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard as she addressed the Nuffield Trust Summit Series event.

She told delegates that addressing workforce issues was a “critical” part of the NHS achieving its long-term aims.

“We’ve got more staff than we have ever had before but we also have more demand than we ever have before,” she said.

She said a workforce strategy was needed to ensure a “really resilient workforce” in the long term but also “something that speaks to the more immediate challenges”.

The reservist programme has been successfully piloted in five regions and is being rolled out across England, Ms Pritchard said.

It is hoped that once reservists are trained and ready to work, then local hospitals and NHS services can call on them depending on staffing requirements and pressures in the local area, creating an additional bank of workers.

People will be paid in line with the role they are performing.

Ms Pritchard said: “Along with the whole country, NHS staff have had a challenging few years – they have worked incredibly hard to care for over 600,000 people in hospital with Covid, kept routine services going for people who needed them and helped the entire country get back to normal with the successful rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

“Their outstanding work has rightly inspired thousands of people who want to join us in delivering care for millions of people, which is why we are introducing this new drive for NHS reservists.

“Reservists will help us in our time of need but also help those who want a rewarding career in the health service – the roles are flexible and can fit around your lifestyle.

“The challenges for the NHS are far from over – and as we now pull out all the stops to recover services, we once again need the public’s support.

“So if you want to help your community by helping your local NHS, search NHS Reservists today – your NHS needs you.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid added: “Former healthcare workers coming out of retirement played a vital role in the national mission to roll out vaccines, as did the many selfless volunteers who came forward to support the NHS.

“We want to build on this invaluable resource as we recover and reform, which is why we’re now recruiting an army of NHS reservists. If you want to help the NHS care for patients and tackle the Covid backlog please sign up today.”

– Candidates can register interest through www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/we-are-nhs/nhs-reservists

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