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Concern raised over high turnover of staff at nursing regulator

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A quarter of people who start working for the Nursing and Midwifery Council leave within the first six months, a situation described as an “extraordinary” waste of resources by one member of its governing body.

Figures for April 2018 show that 25% of new starters at the nursing and midwifery regulator left within six months of service. However, this is down from a peak of 27.8% the previous month.

“What we have got to make sure is we don’t waste time and effort recruiting the wrong people”

Jackie Smith

The data presented to the NMC council this week shows turnover rates among new employees have been at a quarter or above over the past six months, despite efforts to tackle the problem.

Lay council member Stephen Thornton described the situation as “extraordinary” at the body’s latest monthly meeting and said more must be done to find out why people were quitting so soon after joining the organisation.

He said the fact people came into the NMC thinking it was a job they wanted to do and then left within such a short time was a “waste of resources” and it was clear something was going wrong.

Meanwhile, the NMC’s own assessment of its capacity to deliver key changes shows recruitment issues and high turnover rates could be putting this at risk.

The regulator’s corporate risk register shows a red rating – the highest possible rating – for the “risk that we may have insufficient capacity, resilience and capability to deliver change activities”.

Nursing and Midwifery Council

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Stephen Thornton

This includes including improvement to services, new work such as the regulation of nursing associates, as well as being able to simply carry on doing “business as usual”

Performance data for 2017-18 shows staff turnover overall is high, although it has started to drop. The rate was just over a quarter in April 2017, rising to 26.6% in June of that year but has since fallen to just over a fifth – 20.2% – in April this year.

A year on year comparison shows there were seven continuous months from September 2017 to March this year when turnover rates were down compared to the previous year.

The performance report revealed that the most common reason people gave for leaving the NMC in exit interviews was “career progression”.

NMC officials said the recent fall in overall turnover and the fact that the turnover rate among new starters had dropped for the first time in a while were positive signs.

The report showed managers have taken various steps to address the volume of people leaving within six months, including one month reviews to check how they are getting on, they said.

Other measures include post induction reviews and a recent re-launch of the NMC’s recruitment and career website “to drive greater appeal of available roles and set expectations about NMC careers before people join”.

The report stated: “It is currently too early to draw conclusions from the interventions that have been taken by management, which include how we recruit and induct new joiners into the NMC.”

“These will be monitored over the coming six to 12 months and the outcomes of these interventions will become clearer over that period,” it said.

NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith admitted staff turnover had been a problem at the regulator for several years and more progress was needed to make people see it as an exciting place to work.

“Staff turnover has dogged us for a number of years.” she told Nursing Times in an interview after the council meeting on Wednesday.

Nt editorial jackie smith

Nt editorial jackie smith

Jackie Smith

“The reasons for that are, because we’re based in London, we’re competing with other regulators and we have a young workforce by and large who come here, they cut their teeth on what they do and then they move,” she said. “So we have got to be an employer brand – an attractive brand.”

She said there was a trend where people came to work for the NMC and did “enjoy it” but then moved on.

When it came to the high rate of people leaving within six months, she said this was partly about ensuring the regulatory body took on the right people in the first place.

“What we have got to make sure is we don’t waste time and effort recruiting the wrong people, because they realise it is not for them,” she said.

“What Stephen was getting at is that if you have got high turnover in the first six months you have got something wrong in the recruitment process – that’s what we need to target,” she added.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Perhaps an honest and transparent exit interview process that isn't just a tick box but looks at the real individual reasons people are leaving. Perhaps they join full of hope that they can make a difference and quickly realise that the culture is not something they want to be part of!! If this number of staff were leaving within a nursing team we would need to look seriously at our mentorship, the managers of the unit, any bullying or harassment in the workplace and why people feel there is no opportunity for them to progress. It's probably quite demoralising seeing the numbers of lives being damaged by the organisation you are working for and feeling impotent to bring about any change

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  • Perhaps the CQC should visit, and apply the principles behind the KLOEs to this organisation as well as to the providers for whom the registrants of this regulatory body work .. effective? well-led? caring?

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