Call for more frontline workers to help with ‘year of growth and renewal’


Boris Johnson is calling for more teachers, nurses, police officers and other frontline workers to help the UK recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The prime minister will call on those looking for a job or career change this year to consider frontline public sector roles.

An advertising campaign will begin on 5 January on TV in 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.”

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More than one million people are thought to have lost their job as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the recruitment blitz will encourage them to consider frontline positions.

One of the career paths targeted is nursing, with the government having promised to recruit 50,000 more nurses by 2024.

According to 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 the nurse recruitment 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.”

Government figures show the number of doctors increased by 6,030 last year, and the government is also looking for 20,000 more police officers, with 6,000 already hired.

There were 41,000 new teaching trainees recruited during 2020 and around 900 more staff were recruited for Border Force work, with a further 1,100 to be hired by July, a Number 10 spokesman said.

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.

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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