Five thousand additional trainee nurse places will be opened up next year to boost the numbers of home-grown NHS staff, Jeremy Hunt has announced.
The new spots mean the number of undergraduate nursing places will increase to 25,850 in 2018/19 - up 15,000 from 2015.
Health Secretary Mr Hunt labelled it "the biggest expansion of nurse training in the history of the NHS".
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, he said the move was designed to reduce reliance on agency nurses and recruits from overseas.
At the same time, Mr Hunt offered assurances to the 150,000 EU workers in health and social care that he was "confident" their status would not change post Brexit.
Among a string of other measures, Mr Hunt announced an extra 5,500 nursing associates will get training on the job to qualify as full registered nurses via a new apprenticeship path.
And where NHS land is sold for housing, Mr Hunt said NHS staff would be given priority for affordable housing, benefiting up to 3,000 families.
Existing NHS staff will also benefit from a new flexible working offer, he said.
Addressing EU workers, Mr Hunt said: "You do a fantastic job, we want you to stay, and we're confident you will be able to stay with the same rights you have now, so you can continue being a highly valued part of our NHS and social care family."
He told the audience he wanted to make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world.