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Job flexibility is key to recruiting and retaining nurses, says NHS Employers

NHS cannot improve care if it fails to keep its staff, employers tell pay review body

NHS cannot improve care if it fails to keep its staff, employers tell pay review body


Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers. Picture: Barney Newman

The NHS will not be able to improve care if it cannot recruit and retain nurses and other staff, NHS Employers said.

The organisation told the NHS pay review body (RB) action should be prioritised in workforce areas in England with the worst nursing shortages such as mental health and learning disability.

Investment is essential

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer said its submission aims to update the RB on the implementation of the Agenda for Change three-year pay deal that began in 2018 and 'wider system developments and feedback from employers'.

He said: 'The NHS will only continue to thrive if it is given the right resources. Equally, it must change the way some services are delivered, although this transformation also relies on investment in other public services, particularly social care.'

In its evidence, NHS Employers warns that the gap between staff needed and the number available could rise to more than 350,000 by 2030. This concern is based on current trends of staff leaving the workforce early, and if the number of newly trained staff and international recruits does not rise sufficiently.

‘Employers see flexible working as a means of supporting recruitment and retention. It includes term-time-only contracts, part-time working and job sharing’

NHS Employers submission to pay review body

NHS vacancies in England currently stand at 108,000, according to NHS Improvement, and the trend is rising.

Employment terms that stop staff from leaving

NHS Employers also said organisations believe line managers are key to staff retention, and more than 86% of 60 employers questioned rated the NHS Pension Scheme as a factor that keeps staff in the service.

It adds: ‘Employers see flexible working as a means of supporting recruitment and retention. It includes term-time-only contracts, part-time working and job sharing.

‘The challenge for organisations remains being as flexible as possible while maintaining service provision and high standards of patient care.’

The government’s NHS Long Term Plan published this week included a pledge to reduce the nurse vacancy rate from the current 12% to 5% by 2028.

The RB is expected to submit a report to the Department of Health and Social Care in May.


Related material

NHSE's submission to the pay review body


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