Are you a nurse? After a job in the NHS? We talk through the benefits of working for the NHS that you may not have been aware of, including:

  • flexible working
  • building your career
  • developing your skills on the job

Winter crises in the NHS are often best described in numbers so here are some to think about: 100,000; 99.9%; 55,000.

The first is the number of patients who waited for at least 30 minutes in an ambulance before they were admitted to A&E. The second is bed capacity last week at a hospital trust in Walsall and the third relates to the number of operations that will reportedly be postponed this winter to free-up time for more urgent procedures. 

December through to February is the most difficult time for the NHS but even during  sustained periods of demand it must also cope with other pressure points.

NHS jobs: nurse vacancies.

Here’s another number: 33,000. That’s how many nurses left the NHS last year, 3,000 more than joined and according to the BBC an exodus that has created the largest gap in five years.

Most of those leaving are aged 40 or below, which means the NHS is failing to keep hold of young workers while losing those aged 55 and over to retirement causing pressures at both ends of the career cycle.

Retention has a role to play and hopefully over time NHS Improvement - the body responsible for supporting trusts - will see positive results but there needs to be a renewed vigour to attract potential candidates to the profession. 

Nursing benefits.

With all the negative headlines it’s easy to forget the benefits of working in the public sector and specifically the NHS. It has one of the UK’s best pension schemes and offers learning opportunities through training programmes while most hospitals provide family friendly policies. 

Below are some of the best nursing benefits not always given the attention they deserve:

Flexible working.

The shortage of nurses means hospitals are discussing ways of retaining those currently on their wards. One of the ways chief executives are keeping hold of their staff is by offering greater flexibility around working hours, which helps maintain a healthy work-life balance and cuts down on absenteeism.

Nursing grants.

NHS bursaries came to an end last year in a decision that sparked protests, petitions and a lot of anger. However, the bursaries were replaced by loans, which means student nurses would be treated like most other undergraduates but, the government says, now have up to £3,300 extra in their pockets.  

Career building.

It’s not unusual for nurses to rise up the ranks and there are various roles they go on to do in the next stage of their careers. Positions nurses go on to achieve include specialist nurses, matrons and consultants (see our career path guide here.)

Learning on the job.

As a nurse you’ll learn something new and invaluable almost every day. What’s more, while most of your job will be clinical (ie providing care) there are usually opportunities to work on research projects that’ll keep you engaged at and the forefront of potentially life-changing innovations. 

Social income.

A nurses salary starts at £22,128 (plus a high cost area supplement in London) but that doesn’t take into consideration the intrinsic rewards that come with the job. NHS workers are some of the most admired around and being a nurse means becoming a potential role model to friends and family as well as colleagues and patients.