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Return to the NHS and have a rewarding career in mental health

​Former nurses and healthcare staff across Norfolk and Suffolk are being encouraged to resume or start up a new career in mental health as part of the Trust's ongoing recruitment campaign.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has announced its commitment to those who return to the NHS and want work with NSFT by offering appropriate candidates £1,000 towards their expenses and courses at the University of Suffolk or University of East Anglia.

Dawn Collins, Deputy Director of Nursing and Professional Practice with NSFT, said: "We have a national shortage of nurses across the NHS and in mental health we can only recruit nurses who have trained in the UK, which gives us an even smaller pool of people of experienced staff.

"This is why we are doing everything we can to help those who want to return but are hindered due to expenses for childcare, travel and books during their retraining."

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) recently wrote to 1,161 former NHS nurses in Norfolk and 825 in Suffolk who have left its register to encourage them to return.

Tanya Tomkins, 52, took part in a recent Return to Practice programme after an illness forced her to leave the profession. Following treatment over a number of years, she decided to return to the job she loved.

She said: "Nursing was something I had always wanted to do and I also wanted to give something back to the NHS that had helped me so much with my recovery.

"Mental health is a very difficult area in which to attract and keep staff. It is extremely challenging at times, there is no denying that, but holding on in there makes it so rewarding.

"To have a patient display challenging behaviour and distress, then a few weeks down the line with emotional support and correct treatment, become a happier, calmer person, is such a massive reward that you forget about the challenging stuff.

"The Return to Practice programme has made me feel every emotion, but with hard work and support from colleagues, lecturers and family, it is achievable, even at the age of 52."

Dawn said it was an important time to consider returning to nursing or other areas of expert practice: "For our Trust, it is the chance to employ experienced people who may have retired, had a career break or left to start a family. They may previously have worked in mental health or even in other parts of the health service and might consider a career in mental health as a rewarding one for them.

"The Return to Practice programme is essentially a period of updating skills and knowledge to enable a former nurse to work again and become re-registered. It's a combination of classroom and placement-based learning, and a minimum of 75 hours of clinical practice taking place over approximately three months."

If you would like to discuss the possibilities of returning to your NHS career with NSFT you can email for further information or you can read more by logging on to:

If you would like to build up your confidence before commencing a Return to Practice programme, there are lots of ways in which you can volunteer at NSFT, and you can commit to as much or as little time as you like each week. For more information about volunteering with NSFT visit: