The NHS has issued a plea for ‘reservist’ volunteers in order to bolster staff numbers as the numbers of vacancies continue to rise. Around 100,000 vacancies are currently active across the NHS, and addressing the workforce issues are a “critical” part of the NHS achieving its long-term aims according to NHS England Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard.
The volunteers will receive payment for their work, and will be offered roles that are flexible and can fit around peoples’ lifestyles. Reservists will be expected to work for around 30 days throughout the year and training will be provided to them. People who have no experience in the healthcare system will have the opportunity to shadow someone already performing the role they are assigned to.
Since the Reservists programme initial pilot launch at five sites last year, more than 17,000 people have joined up. Latest figures show there are more than 1.3 million people working for the NHS in England, almost 50,000 more than the previous year. This includes over 21,000 more professionally qualified clinical staff.
Roles on offer range from vaccinations to caring for patients discharged from hospitals, as part of the push to clear care backlogs triggered by the pandemic’s pauses in care services. The Health Foundation predicts a million extra health and care staff will be needed by 2031 to cater for our aging population.
“…demand for health and care is growing rapidly and without a proper, rigorous, long term workforce plan, we simply do not know how many extra staff we will need”, said NHS Providers Chief Executive, Chris Hopson. He also called the Government’s reaction to staffing needs “short-sighted”.
“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”, said Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of NHS England.