NEW figures showing a rise in applications for nursing courses in England have been welcomed by former Health Minister, Philip Dunne MP.

Figures from UCAS show almost 50,000 applications to nursing courses in England this year – a 34 per cent increase on the previous year.

It is thought that one of the more positive things to come out of the Covid pandemic is an awareness of the value of nurses and what a rewarding, if tough, job it can be.

The government committed at the General Election to deliver 50,000 more nurses in the NHS, and this increase in applications is a step on the path to delivering on that promise.

Mr Dunne, MP for Ludlow, who had responsibility for workforce while Minister of State for Health, said: that it was really good news that more people are choosing to study nursing.

“I am delighted latest statistics show a 34 per cent increase in applications to study nursing,” he said.

The pandemic has brought huge challenges for frontline healthcare workers, but it has also shown how a career in nursing can be very rewarding, making a real difference in saving lives and protecting people’s health.

“It is now important that we capitalise on this interest in nursing, and Health Education England deliver enough places for applicants.”

In 2020, the number of people accepting a place on a nursing course increased by 27 per cent compared to 2019.

Health Education England is working with health and education sector partners to make sure there are enough places for all suitable applicants who will go on to take up vital jobs in the NHS or social care sector.

Last year, the government introduced a new training grant for eligible nursing, midwifery and allied health professions including paramedic students of at least £5,000 a year, which does not need to be paid back.

A full time nursing degree takes three or four years but it can be studied on a part time basis over a longer period.

There is a two year fast track option for people who come into the career as graduates. Nurses get the chance to specialise if they want to.