Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Private sector trying to poach NHS trust's nursing staff with offer to pay for training


A major NHS trust has been forced to ramp up efforts to retain its staff, after revealing that private sector companies have offered its nurses training courses and a recruitment incentive.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust warned in recent board papers that, as a result of continuing professional development (CPD) funding cuts, private sector providers were offering its staff recruitment incentives in a bid to try and lure them away.

“Staff retention and access to continuing professional development in the NHS is a national issue”

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust

The lack of funding “continues to have an impact on the NHS ability to retain staff”, the April board papers stated.

The warning was contained within the trust’s annual workforce staffing report, which was written by Catherine-Anne Wilkins, head of nursing – workforce.

It said: “This has had a recent impact on theatre and anaesthetic staff who are being offered courses by the private sector as a recruitment incentive.”

A spokeswoman at the trust confirmed that the issue had specifically affected its nurses.

The trust is now working on ways to help retain staff by introducing a range of work-based learning initiatives and by pledging to support nurses to apply for grants where possible, she said.

“Staff retention and access to continuing professional development in the NHS is a national issue and has been for some time,” she said.

In a bid to address the issue, the highlighted that the trust had launched a Nightingale Nurse Award, which is accredited by King’s College London.

“We are also looking at a range of work-based learning initiatives and will continue to support our staff to apply for grants where we can,” she added.

The workforce report also said that, as of the end of February 2019, the trust’s nursing and midwifery budgeted establishment was 6,549.44 whole-time equivalents (WTE) with 5714.36 WTE staff in post.

As previously reported by Nursing Times in 2017, Health Education England announced its budget for “workforce development” – which is largely used for CPD for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals – would be slashed from £104.3m to £83.49m in 2017-18.

However, both HEE and NHS England have recently responded to such concerns. The chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, personally pledged to ensure the CPD funding cuts for nurses were reversed while giving a keynote speech at the chief nursing officer for England’s summit in March.

Meanwhile, in December HEE held out an olive branch to trusts concerned about previous cuts to their training budgets for nurses and midwives.

Calum Pallister, director of finance at HEE, committed £50m of the money for “workforce development” during 2019-20 in advance to offer employers reassurance and allow extra time for planning.

In response to the training claims made in the trust’s workforce report, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, David Hare, said: “As responsible employers, independent healthcare providers invest heavily in continuous professional development (CPD) as a key way of recruiting and retaining staff to deliver high quality care to NHS and private patients.

“Independent healthcare providers deliver care to millions of NHS patients every year who directly benefit from the high quality training and development opportunities the sector provides to its staff,” he added.


Readers' comments (4)

  • ‘‘Twas ever thus I’m afraid. As someone responsible for running many different training courses we were always pushed by the Trust to produce a years plan of courses in advance. We would book people on and fill courses then due to a) staffing issues or b) financial pressures these would then be cancelled, usually at short notice. I have never understood why training is never seen as a priority and a vital part of staff retention.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Emily Montgomery

    Slightly biased acusing the private sector of 'poaching' staff when in affect we are all doing it to each other, there is a national shortage, which is the cause, and we all have both NHS and private patients to care for safely, including NHS Trusts.
    Let's stop blaming each other and focus on resolving the real issues here of a national shortage of nursing staff.
    We should be pleased that staff are offered training and education, regardless of who provides it, this is what keeps our patients safe and our staff continuslly improving.
    The private sector care for NHS patients too.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • That's the way to do it! Yay, come on the private sector! Pay us!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • What a marvelous solution why Knock it ,its a win win situation.

    Maybe the Private Sector will be allowed to Train new Nurses for Specialist situations such as Nursing Homes ( we have been suggesting this for years) .Bye the way isn't the NHS enrolling nurses from the Philippines now ,copying a Private Sector initiative.

    As suggested by others ANY- thing is better than nothing if it helps to rectify this obvious lack of Management foresight.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.