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NHS action plan for trusts struggling to hold onto nurses


NHS trusts in England that are struggling to retain nurses and other staff are to get extra support from regulator NHS Improvement in a new programme announced today.

Plans to tackle the high numbers of nurses leaving NHS organisations were revealed last year by Nursing Times following an interview with NHS Improvement’s executive director of nursing Ruth May.

The programme unveiled today will see trust chief nurses provided with masterclasses on improving retention as well as an “engagement tool” to help trusts understand why staff leave, and another on analysing staff surveys.

Materials, guidance and webinars will also be made available, while there will be specific support for all mental health trusts.

It will be targeted at two groups of 20 trusts to begin with – those with above-average leaving rates for nurses, and mental health trusts with an above-average leaving rate for all clinical staff.

Over the next two months, Ms May and her team will visit employers to offer them support in understanding staff turnover and designing a bespoke plan to improve retention.

“We now have an opportunity to provide trusts with tailored support to persuade staff to stay in the NHS”

Ruth May

“We now have an opportunity to provide trusts with tailored support to persuade staff to stay in the NHS. It’s the right thing to do and it’s a real priority for me,” said Ms May.

“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,” she said.

NHS Improvement

Nurse staffing shortage is ‘top priority’ for regulator

Source: Kate Stanworth

Ruth May

“Lots of trusts are doing it and have been doing it, but not necessarily with sufficient focus. Now is the time we believe we have the resource to support the provider sector to do this. Our effort has got to be how we support them to make this a real focus,” she added.

Commenting on the new support programme, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “NHS staff are our greatest asset and as well as training tens of thousands more nurses and doctors, we are making sure the NHS can continue to retain skilled and motivated staff that deliver world-class patient care every day.”


Readers' comments (15)

  • "NHS staff are our greatest asset and as well as training tens of thousands more nurses and doctors, we are making sure the NHS can continue to retain skilled and motivated staff that deliver world-class patient care every day.”
    REALLY? Who would have thought it after the vote yesterday! Wild horses couldn't have kept me past my 55 birthday. 1979-2015 36 years of lies or sticks that looked like carrots. Sold down the river by UKCC/NMC and Rcn. Nursing is on its knees alongside all the olther public services. The stink of it is many NHS staff voted for their Conservative MPs who stuck two fingers up at the NHS and others yesterday, these nurses will no doubt be unhappy but I do hope they won't be striking etc. They made our bed....

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  • Oh now I understand! It's our fault that nurses are leaving the NHS and we need extra support to stop making them leave. How could I be so stupid as to think it might be the underfunding, understaffing and real time pay cuts we have been subject to. And Jeremy Hunt how dare you say that NHS staff are its greatest asset the day after voting to keep the pay cap - what a kick in the teeth after hinting it might be removed just a day or so after your humiliating election result. You are the reason they are leaving - they've just given up and lost all hope. You should be ashamed that it has come to this.

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  • Poor pay, bullying by senior staff, over worked, understaffed, no support from NMC who just keep squeezing us for more and more money just for the pleasure of being able to work, interrupted breaks (if you get them at all)......feel free to add to the ever growing list.

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  • Some of the trusts listed have plenty of expertise in how to retain and engage staff and I wonder what the purpose of the extra support is in these cases. It would seem more appropriate to address the national issues beyond the influence of trusts namely pay and conditions of service, instead of running the risk of patronising very able directors and their teams by sharing ideas and information they already know.

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  • Poor pay,not appreciated by government. It's sad and shamefull to learn, no one want to understand the real issue. Government has to open the eyes and see who is suffering at the end. Is this is what government want. It's humiliating for the work and pride I take in my job

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  • Totally agree with all of the above. Having worked as a nurse in NHS for 40 yrs I'm now looking forward to retiring with very great pleasure. But sadness for what has been a career that I have loved and been good at., Nursing has been so undervalued and the increasing stress of working in a under resourced, over stretched NHS for many, many years has taken its toll. The cap on pay that we have had to endure for far too long on top of what is already a derisory wage has been so insulting . I'm an advanced nurse practitioner and it is now expected that I will do the work of a dr with all the responsibility and accountability that that entails with far , far less remuneration and recognition. I work in an area where a lack of compassion and flexibility is time and again an issue. For example -not able to take time off for dr appointments, "carers leave" a complete no no when my parents were frail and in need and then 3 days of compassionate leave when they died. Let alone the general inflexibility demonstrated time and again when my children were younger.. yes .. we have all had to lie when they were sick so that we could be off to look after them. Nurse managers are amongst the worst at showing compassion or flexibility to their staff. There has to be a complete re think on how we treat and support how colleagues if staff are to feel valued and want to stay in their jobs. The NMC and RCN have let us down very badly by being so reticent to support "our corner". The endless rounds of initiatives and projects to look at this and that in order to improve service delivery and to address the staffing problems in the NHS end up costing a huge amount of money, keep people in jobs that have very little effect and have virtually no impact on what is actually happening on the ground at grass router level.

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  • i have to say i agree with all of the comments above. i also struggle to see how a toolkit for retention will help when the conditions that nurses are working under are so adversary. Chief Nurses don't need another stick to beat them with, they need the tools to enable retention. This means better working conditions for nurses, better or at least equal pay, better staffing levels, technology that assist and supports, staff care and compassion, an environment that allows people to learn and develop, all of it practically undoable in the current climate. All of my career in the NHS (25+years) nurses have been undervalued by everyone around them from being told you dont need a degree to wipe bottoms, to aren't nurses stupid wasting time/resources etc, you dont need high pay its a vocation, to being told you managed yesterday why can't you mange today, you're not caring enough, etc etc. Dont you just get sick of it? i wish the public would get the message: to do what you want; there isn't enough money, there never has been and until the politicians stop scoring points off each other over the NHS there never will be.

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  • Hunt: "we are making sure the NHS can continue to retain skilled and motivated staff"

    No. That is a lie. You are making sure the NHS collapses before our eyes and then present the saviour of the NHS: a free market solution (yes, I know, the market and nationalisation of the NHS is an oxymoron).

    Tories believe that the state should not interfere in the lives of the people. If there is a demand for healthcare the market should provide it. This is their ideology. The NHS represents everything that is wrong with state intervention (to Tories).

    They have spent 7 years dismantling it by exposing it to the market. Lansley spent £25billion of your money introducing the market in 2012. To reduce overheads (and therefore make it more attractive to companies such as Virgin) it is important to keep wages low.

    The first thing they did when they came to office was tear up the pension. I was ridiculed on this website for stating that it was a precursor to the sell off of the NHS.

    So when Hunt says that nurses deserve a pay rise, or that "we are making sure the NHS can continue to retain skilled and motivated staff" you know he is lying - he wrote a book about tearing up the NHS for goodness sake.

    The only way to stop nurses leaving the profession in droves is a decent pay rise. And by pay rise I mean at least 15%. Yes, 15%: we have suffered a 14% real terms pay cut since 2010 under the Tories. Anything less than 14% is still a real terms pay cut.

    For those nurses that voted Tory at the election: thanks for nothing. You are getting everything you deserve. Don't you dare complain about your pay or working conditions because you voted for it.

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  • From today'sGuardian: 'Dr Sarah Wollaston, the Tory MP who chaired parliament’s health select committee up to the election, said there was considerable strength of feeling among her colleagues on the backbenches...'

    But not strong enough to actually vote for it, eh Sarah?

    And not strong enough to avoid cheering when the result of the vote was announced, eh Sarah?

    Please, stop the nonsense.

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  • The country must be desperate!

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