PROSPECTIVE students in Bradford have been urged to kick off a career in nursing with a local degree, ahead of the university applications deadline.

Those enrolling on courses would join thousands of local nurses and midwives already employed with the NHS, with England’s most senior nurse hailing the opportunity to work “in one of the most rewarding careers”.

The UCAS deadline for undergraduate courses is January 15, with hundreds of places expected to be available on local nursing degrees.

While final numbers will not be settled until after applications have closed, last year there were 310 places on offer at The University of Bradford.

More widely, universities across the North East and Yorkshire offered 4,350 places on courses last year.

The restoration of a grant for nursing students means that successful applicants will receive £5,000 a year to support them through their studies.

Other financial incentives will also be provided to help people with childcare, or to study in disciplines which struggle to recruit and areas of the country which have seen a drop in applications.

Following graduation, new nurses would go on to join a 6,174-strong NHS nursing and midwifery community in Bradford.

Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England said: “The UCAS deadline looms and with the return of a £5,000 bursary, a high starting salary and a chance to work in one of the most rewarding careers there is, students have just days left to apply to be a nurse.

“Our NHS Long Term Plan will deliver thousands of new clinical placements in higher education, so more trainee nurses than ever before will be able to get first-hand experience on the front line as part of their studies.

“Studying to become a nurse was undoubtedly the greatest decision I ever made, and with so many nursing degree options around and one of the highest degree employability rates, now is the perfect time to join our NHS family.”

Prior to entering government, the Conservative Party said it planned to have 50,000 more nurses in the NHS by 2024-25. The figure included retaining 19,000 current nurses, with plans to recruit and train 31,000.

The Royal College of Nursing welcomed the return of a bursary for nursing students, but said more needed to be done to bring people into the profession.

Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN said: “It is good to see efforts being taken to recruit new people onto nursing courses and with 43,000 nursing vacancies in England alone, it’s clear that time really is of the essence to turn around the nursing workforce crisis.

“The recent announcement of student funding is a welcome boost that we hope encourages those thinking about joining the nursing profession to sign up.

"However, we also need students to be taken out of tuition fees so that concerns about acquiring large sums of debt no longer deter them. Since the Government announced it was to make nursing students pay tuition fees in 2016 applications have fallen 25%.

“Only when these barriers to entering the nursing profession are removed will the courses attract high levels of top-quality applications.”