NHS trust's careers clinics are opening doors for its staff nurses
When University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) interviewed band 5 and 6 nurses to find out why so many of them were leaving, and what it could do to keep them, their answers led to a new careers clinic that is making a real difference.
‘Staff nurses need a range of experience to become rounded professionals,’ says deputy chief nurse Lorraine Szeremeta.
For a start, staff nurses were unaware of job opportunities in different wards. Even if they were able to apply for a transfer, they had to re-do assessments and criminal records checks.
‘So we decided to make it easier for them,’ says Ms Szeremeta. ‘If you are a band 5 nurse and you are good enough to be able to work in a surgical ward at UCLH then you should be good enough to work in a medical ward or a haematology ward at the same level.’
The trust – which can find out about transfers and use a streamlined process to move. And it’s working brilliantly, says Ms Szeremeta. In a pilot project last summer, 30 nurses attended the careers clinic and 13 transferred.
By early March 2016, more than 80 nurses had attended, 37 had transferred successfully and more than 40 were waiting for a job to come up. Band 5 and 6 turnover dropped from 16% (comparable to the rest of London) to below 7.5%. ‘These are nurses who would otherwise have left us,’ says Ms Szeremeta.
The clinic is now open to band 2 nursing assistants.
NHS human resources specialist Natalie Shamash was recruited to set up about streamlining.
A band 5 or 6 nurse who wants to move sideways starts by talking to Ms Shamash, before writing a 250-word personal statement explaining why he or she wants to move. Up to three specialties of interest can be selected.
If this is approved, the next step is a five-point questionnaire for the nurse’s line manager, to establish the nurse’s competence, if they are in the probationary period, and what notice period applies. ‘The questions are all part of the normal recruitment process,’ says Ms Shamash.
After clearing this stage, the nurse can be put forward for transfer, provided their area would not be left understaffed.
Nurses say the process is quick and easy (see interview
Ms Szeremeta explains: ‘There are areas that are too specialised for a straight transfer. We could not allow a band 6 respiratory nurse to transfer at band 6 to emergency care, for example. The careers clinic allows them to move without the embarrassment you would have being a band 6 applying for a band 5 post.’
She suggests that the same principle of ‘good enough for one area, good for all’ could apply to other organisations.
‘My vision would be to have this adopted across several hospitals in London,’ she says. ‘This has been a fantastic project. Yes, there were financial savings, but this is about keeping nurses by giving them every opportunity to develop’.
Interviews: two nurses who have been through the process