Thousands of people who joined the Covid-19 vaccination programme have taken up permanent roles in the NHS.
New figures from the health service show 11,483 people who helped deliver coronavirus jabs have started a career in the NHS.
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS, said: “Not only did these people help deliver the most successful NHS vaccination programme 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.
“From new starters to people who had retired, thousands took up the call to get jabs in arms in their local communities and it is fantastic that more than 11,000 people have decided to stay with us in another capacity, taking on one of the many rewarding roles across the health service.”
The NHS said it recruited more than 71,000 people for paid roles in the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme since December 2020, as well as thousands of unpaid volunteers.
The health service said people who worked as gym managers, dance teachers and even a chef have now joined the NHS workforce after becoming vaccinators, taking up roles in supporting medical teams, boosting patient experience or studying for clinical jobs.
It added the “boost” to the workforce will help tackle the massive backlog caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
It comes as the NHS faces workforce shortages, with huge numbers of vacancies as well as staff absences due to Covid.
Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “Thanks to the phenomenal efforts of thousands of volunteer vaccinators during the pandemic, we’ve built a wall of defence against the virus and are learning to live with Covid.
“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.”
Karen Dear, who worked for the vaccine programme after being furloughed from her job as a dance teacher and is now a ward clerk at Bedford Hospital’s maternity unit, said: “When I was furloughed from my job teaching at a dance school, I was eager to do something to help so joined the NHS vaccination programme last January and enjoyed being part of something that made a real difference.
“After a year, I decided I wanted to pursue a long-term career in the NHS so completed my Care Certificate and spoke with the local retention team who opened my eyes to the various roles and opportunities across the health service – now I’m in a new job I love, as a full-time ward clerk at our local maternity unit.”
Kazeem Reaves Odunsi, who worked as a gym manager before becoming a vaccinator and is now an assistant service manager at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said: “By giving someone the vaccine I felt I was helping to improve their quality of life and bring an end to the pandemic.
“Being part of a team that was making history and getting to meet people from a range of backgrounds and cultures, I was really inspired to stay on and start a new career in the NHS.”