Charles Venn, who plays nurse Jacob Masters in BBC hospital drama Casualty, is changing perceptions of the role of men in the profession.

Numbers of males – especially school-leavers – wanting to get on college courses are the highest in a decade

The NHS has seen a significant rise in the number of men applying to be nurses, following a recruitment drive aimed at changing attitudes towards a career long stereotyped as female-dominated.

Hundreds more men have applied to study nursing and midwifery since the start of last summer’s NHS England campaign, a 9% increase according to Ucas, the organisation that arranges university courses.

The rise is especially notable among school leavers, with the number of men wanting to do nursing degrees up by a fifth – the highest in a decade. Paul Vaughan, director of Nursing, Transformation, at NHS England, said: “Nurses are at the heart of people’s NHS care so it’s encouraging to see such an uptake in nursing applications since the launch of the campaign – especially among men.

“We want to get young people, including boys, to think about a career in nursing from an early age, which is why NHS England has been working with families and schools to highlight the huge positive impact we can have and the many roles available within the profession.”

The We Are The NHS campaign, launched on the NHS’s 70th birthday in July 2018, ran advertising across TV, radio, posters, digital and social media, and primarily targeted the 14-18 age group. It highlighted a range of opportunities available in the NHS, with a specific focus on nursing, and prioritised key shortage areas including mental health, learning disabilities and community and general practice nursing.

Charles Venn, who plays nurse Jacob Masters in the BBC One series Casualty, said he hoped his role had helped to change perceptions.

“It’s really encouraging to see that more men are considering a career in nursing,” he said. “It’s been an honour playing a male nurse in Casualty. Portraying Jacob for the past few years has I hope broken down barriers and misconceptions about what a traditional nurse looks like. I hope this is just the start.”