The NHS in Derby and Derbyshire is encouraging healthcare professionals who have had a break in their career to return to practice.

The health service wants to see nurses, midwives and allied health professionals come back to their health and social care careers – and is offering free university course places and a bursary of at least £500 to help with costs such as travel, childcare and books, with a potential support package of up to £3,000 to cover the duration of the course.

NHS staff touch the lives of more than one million people who live in Derby and Derbyshire, caring for each and every one of them with care and compassion when it matters most. There are vacancies waiting for returnees in both health and social care roles in Derby and Derbyshire.

The return to practice programme, led by Health Education England, supports the commitments made in the NHS Long Term Plan to recruit more people into the workforce and ensure staff have rewarding jobs and work in a positive culture. 

The move to encourage more professionals to return to practice is timely with 2020 being the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.

Lynn Andrews, director of nursing and patient care at Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As a nurse for over 30 years I have seen the role of the nurse evolve and develop into a graduate profession with additional technical skills and competencies. However, what always remains at the core of our role is the unique relationship we have with our patients, their families and their loved ones, and the ability we have as nurses to ‘make a difference’ through our care and compassion.

“Now we are in 2020 - the Year of the Nurse and Midwife - this is a really exciting time to return to a rewarding career where there is a job opportunity to suit every nurse’s career aspiration and work-life balance. We acknowledge that returning to practice can be a scary step but we will provide you with a supportive environment, surrounded by colleagues who want to help you succeed and a dedicated education team who will develop a wrap-around work based learning package designed around your specific requirements. We hope you take this opportunity to return renewed, invigorated and feeling confident and enthusiastic about your future career as a nurse.”

Cathy Winfield, executive chief nurse, University Hospitals of Derby and Burton, said: “People who have chosen a career in healthcare at some point in their lives will have done so because they possess the core attributes needed to work in a healthcare setting - compassion, care and the desire to make a difference - and we believe that returnees not only have their clinical experience to offer but also these valuable assets which are needed to provide high quality patient care. Healthcare may have changed over the years but the one thing that remains the same is that our patients need compassionate, nurturing staff to care for them when they are at their most vulnerable. Returnees, we believe are valuable to patient experiences and outcomes, and they can offer so much to our colleagues by sharing their knowledge and expertise.

“It takes courage to step back into a career after a break which is why we will support returnees throughout their journey back into practice with a structured programme of support including a designated supervisor, a learning plan created around specific learning requirements and support from our Practice Learning Support Unit with sourcing a placement area to complete the required supervised practice.”

Nurses makes up the largest part of the NHS workforce. It is known that nurses leave the profession for a variety of reasons. Some have children or start a new career, while others retire. Many want to come back but do not know they can or where to start. NHS organisations in Derby and Derbyshire are keen to support nurses and midwives on their journey back with useful information on financial support, where to find courses and tips on applications and interviews. 

Allied health professionals (AHPs) are the third largest workforce in the NHS. In the main they are degree-level professions. AHPs cover 14 different professions: art therapists, drama therapists, music therapists, chiropodists/podiatrists, dietitians, occupational therapists, operating department practitioners, orthoptists, osteopaths, paramedics, physiotherapists, prosthetists/orthotists, radiographers, and speech and language therapists. The return to practice programme enables AHPs and healthcare scientists that have left their professions to re-enter and gain their Health and Care Professions Council registration.

For further information about the Return to Practice programme, in the first instance please contact Joined Up Careers Derbyshire on 01629 532415 or email