Nurses offered £6,000 to remain in hard-to-fill posts

But ‘golden hello’ bonuses no substitute for fair NHS pay, and merely push recruitment and retention difficulties from one employer to another – nurses’ leader

But ‘golden hello’ bonuses no substitute for fair NHS pay, and merely push recruitment and retention difficulties from one employer to another – nurses’ leader

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An NHS employer is offering a £6,000 ‘golden hello’ for community mental health nurse recruits who stay in the role for at least a year.

Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT) has opened applications for four band 6 roles in the adult community team and is offering the incentive in a bid to attract candidates to posts that have been vacant for some time. The closing date in 18 February.

Successful applicants will receive £1,500 of the bonus straight away. A further £1,500 is paid after six months, with the remaining £3,000 paid at the end of the person’s first year.

A trust spokesperson said: ‘HPFT do not routinely offer recruitment and retention premium payments. In extremis, where we have been unable to fulfil critical roles for a sustained period of time we will consider it as one of a number of initiatives to resolve the situation.’

Healthcare employers resorting to bonus offers to recruit and retain nurses

Other employers have made similar offers: Humber Teaching Foundation Trust, for example, promised a one-off £3,000 bonus to newly-qualified nurses last year and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership gave nurses joining its mental health and learning disability teams £4,500.

The recruitment point to the struggles employers have in attracting staff in certain areas and comes as the latest NHS vacancy statistics show 18.5% of nursing posts at mental health trusts in England were unfilled in September 2023, representing 13,821 vacancies. Almost one-third (31.3%) of all nursing vacancies in England are in mental health trusts.

Only fair pay for nurses will address the staffing shortage

But the RCN warned the incentives were just passing recruitment issues around regions, labelling them a ‘desperate attempt’ to entice staff.

The college’s nursing director for England Patricia Marquis said: ‘The crisis in the nursing workforce is forcing trusts to use ad hoc local financial incentives in a desperate attempt to attract and retain the nursing staff they urgently need.

‘We can’t rely on golden hellos and relocation bonuses – this simply moves the problem from one trust to the next and doesn’t address the real issue. Trusts are also being forced to spend huge amounts of money on agency staff to plug gaps because they can’t secure permanent staff.

‘The NHS needs a national solution to the national nursing workforce crisis – and that’s fair pay for nursing.’

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