Boris Johnson is planning a recruitment blitz for teachers, NHS staff and police (Picture: PA/Getty)
Boris Johnson is planning a public sector recruitment ‘bonanza’ in 2021 as the UK battles to see off the coronavirus pandemic.
More than one million jobs are thought to have been lost as a result of restrictions brought in to control the spread of Covid-19.
As part of efforts to reach those affected by the jobs downturn, Downing Street will oversee a recruitment blitz in the coming months to encourage people to consider taking up frontline posts across the NHS, teaching and prisons.
There will also be a specific television advertising drive for police officers, due to start on Tuesday January 5, across England and Wales.
Mr Johnson said: ‘We have the very best public servants and I feel an enormous sense of admiration when I think about the care, fortitude and determination with which our doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers and prison workers have faced up to the challenges of the pandemic.
‘There is light at the end of the Covid tunnel – the vaccine provides increasing hope of returning to normality by Easter and I am determined that we build back better from the pandemic and take advantage of the opportunities that are ahead.
‘My commitment to recruit more teachers, nurses, police officers and other frontline workers is unwavering.
‘We have made good progress this year, but 2021 will be a year of growth and renewal – and having the very best frontline workers will be a critical part of that.’
Nurses outside the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital during a clap for carers event (Picture:PA)
The recruitment drive comes as public services buckle under the pressure of the second wave of the pandemic.
A ‘tsunami’ of cases has left only one nurse for every three intensive care patients at the Royal London hospital, while another hospital in the capital has warned it is on the brink of treating Covid patients only.
Health bosses have warned that the next few weeks will be ‘nail bitingly’ difficult for the NHS and that overworked staff, who have had to cancel leave and come in on their days off, are at at risk of ‘burnout’.
A British Medical Association (BMA) survey found that 67% of doctors reported that current levels of fatigue and exhaustion were higher than normal as they tackle an increase of Covid cases and a growing backlog of care on top of the usual seasonal demand.
Nightingale hospitals are being readied to cope with the number of Covid patients, but concerns have been raised that they could be rendered useless due to staff shortages.
London’s Nightingale Hospital is ready to admit patients but there are fears there is not enough staff to man it (Picture: AFP)
According to figures from the Department of Health and Social Care, the number of nurses in the NHS in England increased by 13,313 last year to a record 299,184
But a spokesman for the Royal College of Nursing said figures for 2020 had been ‘inflated’ by staff returning to work during the pandemic.
‘The level of unfilled nurse jobs is stubbornly high as 2021 begins,’ the spokesman warned.
‘The Government must do all it can to convince these professionals to stay and bring others in permanently, with an early and significant NHS pay rise and the real support nursing students need.’
The number of doctors also rose by an additional 6,030, according to health officials, with the latest figures released in September indicating that there are almost 122,500 registered in the country.
The Government also wants to recruit more teachers (Picture: AFP )
Teacher numbers are also up, with 41,000 new trainees recruited during 2020.
But many say the pandemic has left them exhausted and demoralised, with Covid-19 absences affecting staff numbers.
The Government is looking to put 20,000 more police on the beat before the next election, with 6,000 already hired. However, senior police officers have warned this is not enough to make up for cuts during 10 years of austerity.
Border Force ranks have also been beefed-up as part of Brexit preparations. Around 900 additional operational staff were recruited in the 2019/20 financial year and a further 1,100 staff will be recruited by July 2021, a Number 10 spokesman said.
Meanwhile, a further 1,760 prison officers were recruited across England and Wales, alongside an additional 443 probation officers, during 2020.
The Ministry of Justice plans to recruit a further 3,200 prison officers and 1,500 probation officers during the financial year 2021/22, a spokesman added.
This comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak said doctors and nurses will receive a pay rise, but pay rises for most of the rest of the public sector will be ‘paused’ next year.
Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘If the Government is really serious about recruitment, it must end the public sector pay freeze the Chancellor announced just a few weeks ago.’
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