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Boris Johnson urges Brits to join the public sector as he heaps praise on coronavirus frontline staff

Number 10 is urging people to sign up for public sector jobs. (PA)

4 min read

Boris Johnson is urging Brits to consider a career in the public sector as he hailed the “heroic efforts“ of frontline staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ahead of fresh figures on police and teacher recruitment and a new plan for the NHS workforce, Number 10 said it wanted to encourage people to seize the “great opportunities that lie in the public service”.

And the Prime Minister said: “We have seen more clearly than ever the heroic efforts of our public workers during this pandemic.
“The fantastic teachers, police officers and NHS workers truly are the pride of the nation and embody the spirit of public duty that every one of us can aspire towards.
“Together, we are on a mission to build back better - protect our NHS, make our streets safer, educate the next generation and unleash Britain’s potential.”

The comments come as the Department for Education and the Home Office are set to unveil respective figures on the numbers of trainee teachers who have become fully qualified in the past year and the Government’s progress towards its manifesto pledge of recruiting 20,000 new police officers.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will meanwhile give a speech later as his department unveils its latest ‘NHS People Plan’, focused on the health service’s workforce.

The Daily Mail reports that the plan will encourage doctors to use WhatsApp to give patients test results and medical advice, while staff will be given the option to work more flexibly, with all NHS jobs set to be advertised on a flexible pattern from next year.

The move is aimed to getting more people with young families and caring responsibilities into the service, and will be coupled with a promised crackdown on NHS bureaucracy.

Mr Hancock said: “Every single person working in the NHS has contributed to an unprecedented national effort to beat back this virus and save lives.

“They have protected us and in return this Government will do everything in its power to protect and support them. 

“Our NHS people deserve to get on with caring for patients and this crisis has proved there's bureaucracy that our healthcare system can do better without.

“So I'm urging people across the NHS and social care to speak up about what red tape you can do without to allow you to better deliver the high-quality care you are renowned for.”

But Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds said: “It feels pretty rich for the Prime Minister to talk of valuing the public sector when the Covid-19 crisis has shown just how starkly his Government has let down our NHS and social care workers.”

The opposition frontbencher added: “Let’s not forget that the reason the Prime Minister needs to launch a recruitment drive is because Conservative governments have cut our public services to the bone.

"If the Government is serious about attracting people to work in the public sector then he needs to show that he values those who already do, giving them the equipment they need and the pay talks they deserve.”
And Suzie Bailey of the King’s Fund health think tank said the NHS workforce proposal represented an “interim stop-gap” which falls “a long way short of the workforce strategy the NHS so desperately needs”.

She warned: “Delays to government spending decisions mean the plan lacks the long-term investment and concrete commitments needed to recruit the doctors, nurses and other staff needed to address workforce shortages and meet the government’s manifesto commitments.
“Even before the pandemic, the UK health and care workforce was in a state of crisis, with high levels of work-related stress, reports of overworked staff looking to leave their jobs, and a shortage of around 40,000 nurses. 

“Although today’s plan includes some welcome measures to support the health and wellbeing of staff and tackle discrimination, warm words will be worth little without a credible implementation plan.”

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