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NHS urges retirees to stay longer to plug nursing gaps

Letter sent to trusts appeals for retiring and recently retired nurses to continue working part-time or from home in bid to deal with patient backlog

Letter sent to trusts appeals for retiring and recently retired nurses to continue working part-time or from home in bid to deal with patient backlog

Nurses are being urged to delay retirement and increase contracted hours to help fight the record backlog in patient care.

In a letter sent to hospital trusts on 3 May, NHS England (NHSE) appealed for retiring and recently retired nurses and doctors to be asked to continue working part-time or from home in virtual wards.

Options to increase contracted hours, including through bank shifts

Trusts should also consider creating ‘options for staff to increase their contracted hours, including through bank shifts’, as well as accelerating recruitment of substantive

Letter sent to trusts appeals for retiring and recently retired nurses to continue working part-time or from home in bid to deal with patient backlog

The NHS has sent a letter to trusts urging retiring and retirees to continue working to help plug nursing gaps
Picture: iStock

Nurses are being urged to delay retirement and increase contracted hours to help fight the record backlog in patient care.

In a letter sent to hospital trusts on 3 May, NHS England (NHSE) appealed for retiring and recently retired nurses and doctors to be asked to continue working part-time or from home in virtual wards.

Options to increase contracted hours, including through bank shifts

Trusts should also consider creating ‘options for staff to increase their contracted hours, including through bank shifts’, as well as accelerating recruitment of substantive nurses and midwives, the letter said.

RCN England director Patricia Marquis said: ‘Employers can’t keep expecting more from nursing staff as more staff leave because there is no incentive to stay. The impact of on patients and staff is just not acceptable.

‘The government must invest and address the staffing crisis that pushes nursing staff to their limit every day. A fully-funded substantial pay rise and long-term workforce strategy must be a priority.’

The government say they expect the numbers of nurses leaving the workforce to surge over the next two years, partly made up of nurses who delayed retirement to continue working during the pandemic.

Latest NHS vacancy figures show the NHS has about 40,000 nursing vacancies and 110,000 vacancies overall.

NHS letter says those who return to work won’t have pension reduced

The letter, signed by NHSE leaders, including chief nurse Ruth May, also suggested that trusts should encourage nurses considering retirement to stay on to ‘support and educate the wider elective recovery workforce’ through schemes, such as the Legacy Mentor Programmes.

It goes onto say that staff can be reassured that those who return to work will not have their pension reduced.

NHS Providers’ chief executive Chris Hopson said although staffing initiatives are welcome for reducing waiting times for patients ‘we cannot disguise the fact that the NHS simply doesn’t have enough staff’.

He added: ‘Asking existing staff to do more isn’t enough. We need a long-term, fully funded workforce plan for the NHS.’


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