People working in health and social care in east Kent are being called upon to celebrate the 75th birthday of the National Health Service by inspiring the next generation of workers.
Healthcare professionals are being asked to donate 75 minutes of their time to become health and care ambassadors and encourage people to become doctors, nurses, therapists and care assistants, or find roles in finance, estates, project management, human resourcing or communications.
The plea comes shortly after the NHS Long Term Workforce plan was launched. The plan sets out an expansion in training, changes to ways of working, and improvements to culture that will increase the NHS permanent workforce over 15 years.
Munya Badze, Youth Volunteering Project Manager at NHS Kent and Medway, said: “We need to future-proof our NHS for the next 75 years by making sure we have the people to resource it. By volunteering to become a health and care ambassador, you can encourage young people starting out, or adults looking for a change of career, to find out more about the diverse number of roles available in the NHS and other care organisations.
“It’s not just about becoming a doctor, nurse or healthcare assistant – there are also a huge number of non-clinical jobs available. We’re looking for people from any organisation or profession in east Kent to take part, working with schools and colleges, or even at recruitment events, either online or in person.”
Angela Fudge, a community learning disability nurse at Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, added: “We know there is a shortage of nurses – especially learning disability nurses – and we need to do something to improve recruitment. We were looking at ways to promote the career and signing up to be a health and care ambassador seemed like a good way to reach the next generation.”
Health and care ambassador Sophia van Wyk is a Corporate Finance Business Partner at NHS Kent and Medway. She said: “I became a health and care ambassador so I could encourage young people, including college and university students, into the NHS. It’s satisfying to be able to give back to the community and let them know there are lots of non-clinical roles available in healthcare.
“I’ve presented to both junior and senior students in person, but mostly online. It’s not a huge commitment as I donate about half an hour of my time, four to six times a year.
“We talk about how to get into different roles – such as through graduate schemes and apprenticeships – how to progress within the NHS, and how to build up their knowledge and experience through training. It’s important to let the next generation know there are options to join the public sector and I’m pleased to be a part of that.”
Ester Thomas, Matron at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, who has recently become a health and care ambassador, added: “It’s vital that we inspire the next generation to become part of the health and social care sector. Nursing is one of the most dignified roles you can have, particularly if you’re looking after someone at the end of their life – sitting next to someone who’s dying is the most privileged position to be in.
“People will always require healthcare so it’s a job that can take you through your entire career. We know from the pandemic that people working in health and care will always be needed.”
For more information and to register to become a health and care ambassador, visit www.kentcht.nhs.uk/ambassadors.