Dance teachers and chefs are among more than 11,000 people who volunteered to administer Covid jabs to Britons during the pandemic and have since decided to take up full-time jobs within the NHS.
When coronavirus began spreading across the world in early 2020, researchers got to work engineering jabs to fight the disease. By December, Margaret Keenan had become the first person in the UK – and the world – to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech injection outside of medical trials.
Around 71,000 people took paid roles and thousands more volunteered to help with the UK’s Covid vaccination programme, making it the largest of its kind in the history of the NHS.
So far, the UK’s rollout has seen more than 120 million doses administered.
New figures, released by the NHS, show that 11,483 people who helped with the program have now started a new career in the health service.
Health secretary Sajid Javid welcomed the figures, saying those who had made the transition were in for “rewarding careers”.
“Thanks to the phenomenal efforts of thousands of volunteer vaccinators during the pandemic, we’ve built a wall of defense against the virus and are learning to live with Covid,” he said.
“I’m delighted that more than 11,000 former volunteers have been inspired by their experiences to now pursue a rewarding career in the NHS, continuing to make a positive difference to people’s lives every day.”
Chloe Radley, who worked as a make-up artist before joining the vaccine programme, echoed the cabinet minister’s sentiments.
“During the first months of the pandemic, I lost the vast majority of my customers and was unable to resume my work so I decided to take the plunge and support our local vaccination program in an admin role,” she said.
“I immediately fell in love with the job and the team, and when my manager encouraged me to apply for another role in the health service I jumped at the chance – I’m now a patient pathway coordinator and find the work so rewarding”.
More than 92 per cent of people aged 12 and above in the UK have received a first Covid jab to date, with almost 68 per cent having had three doses.
The NHS said those who had chosen to take up positions in the service after volunteering with the Covid program would help it tackle the backlog caused by the pandemic.
Data suggests the number of NHS patients in England waiting to start routine hospital treatment has risen to 6.2 million – the highest number since records began 15 years ago.
Meanwhile, as reported by The Independent last week, wait times in A&E have skyrocketed due to widespread workforce shortages as a result of staff absences due to Covid. In a single week in March, almost 25,000 patients waited for longer than 12 hours after arriving at an emergency department.
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS, said of those switching to a career in the health service: “Not only did these people help deliver the most successful NHS vaccination program in history, protecting the public against the virus at speed, they are now continuing to help us care for others in various roles across the country.”
Imploring others to consider doing the same, she added: “With more than 350 different roles within the NHS – there are roles for everyone so please search NHS careers today, if you are interested in joining us too.”