Thousands of international nurses ‘on order book’ to join NHS ahead of second wave of coronavirus

Thousands of international nurses are reportedly lined up to join the NHS as England’s chief nurse outlined plans to spend up to £180 million to boost numbers ahead of a second wave of coronavirus.

Ruth May told The Independent that 6,500 nurses were “on the order book” to join the health service, with almost two dozen travelling from India in the past two weeks.

Ms May (pictured) told the news site that 2,500 retired nurses who rejoined to help during the first stage of the pandemic were being supported to stay on, as the health service aims to prevent operations being cancelled this winter.

She told the Independent: “Nurses were at the forefront of the Covid-19 response, they have worked so hard.

“The public have seen the breadth and depth of what nurses and midwives can do. I know they will, as a profession, step up yet again for the challenging few months we’ll no doubt have.

“We will no doubt see that nurses will be in the forefront of the response during winter, and that’s exactly why we want more nurses, that’s why we’re asking people to join our profession. We don’t just want people to clap for nurses, we want people to become a nurse.”

The Department of Health and Social Care has provided £28 million to boost international nurse recruitment, while hospitals have £150 million to spend on existing nurses to boost their training and keep them in the health service, the Independent reported.

In a statement from the NHS, Ms May added: “This international recruitment fund will help NHS organisations pay for additional costs incurred because of Coronavirus, including accommodation, flights and quarantine.”

The NHS said a £1.7 million fund had also been established to help regional nursing teams recruit health care support staff in NHS organisations with the highest vacancy rates.

There are now 302,293 nurses in England after more than 13,442 nurses joined the NHS in the 12 months to May this year, the service said, adding there had been a 22% increase in applications for nursing degrees in that period.

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