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Programme aims to retain NHS nurses

NHS Improvement moves to tackle nurse and clinical staff vacancies in England.
Retaining staff

A major new retention programme has been launched by NHS Improvement to reduce the number of nurse and mental health staff vacancies in England.

Trusts will be offered a wide range of support, including masterclasses for directors of nursing and human resources, targeted support for mental health trusts, and engagement tools to understand why staff leave.

The Retention Direct Support Programme will be aimed at trusts with an above-average leave rate for nurses.

Twenty trusts will be targeted initially, with an additional 20 mental health trusts receiving support to retain clinical staff of all types.

Tailored support

The organisation's executive director of nursing Ruth May, who will visit trust leaders to analyse turnover and design bespoke improvements, said: 'We now have an opportunity to provide trusts with tailored support to persuade staff to stay in the NHS.

'We

A major new retention programme has been launched by NHS Improvement to reduce the number of nurse and mental health staff vacancies in England.


Picture: iStock

Trusts will be offered a wide range of support, including masterclasses for directors of nursing and human resources, targeted support for mental health trusts, and engagement tools to understand why staff leave.

The Retention Direct Support Programme will be aimed at trusts with an above-average leave rate for nurses.

Twenty trusts will be targeted initially, with an additional 20 mental health trusts receiving support to retain clinical staff of all types.

Tailored support

The organisation's executive director of nursing Ruth May, who will visit trust leaders to analyse turnover and design bespoke improvements, said: 'We now have an opportunity to provide trusts with tailored support to persuade staff to stay in the NHS.

'We know there is no magic bullet or formula for getting this absolutely right, and it is not all down to retention, but we have a major part to play in supporting all of our staff and making sure we can keep them.'

NHS Improvement said the reason why 26% of health service staff left in 2016 was unknown.

But it said 17% left due to retirement, 16% due to relocation and 13% due to pay.

Work-life balance and flexibility were among other reasons for leaving.

Good practice

NHS Improvement wants to draw on good practice, such as work done at Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust, where the nurse vacancy rate was reduced from 40% to 5% within two years.

The trust had identified lack of openness and honesty as a cultural problem that needed to be addressed.

It began offering 'significant support' to newly registered nurses in their first six months, developing new roles and condensing training programmes, and offering more internal job opportunities.

Nurse leadership was encouraged, as was empowering staff to make changes, while training was funded to reduce reliance on agency staff.

The changes have resulted in greater nurse autonomy, flexible working, increased retention and making the community nurse role more attractive.

Elsewhere, Medway NHS Foundation Trust slashed emergency department vacancies from 65% to 14%, by increasing preceptorship to 18 months and developing a range of nurse leader roles and education programmes for focused development.


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