An integrated community and mental health trust in the East Midlands is being forced to recruit more senior nurses to fill junior roles due to an ongoing shortage of band 5 nurses in the region, which may be exacerbated in future by the axing of the student bursary.
According to board papers for March, Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust stated that it did not want to employ band 6 nurses where band 5s could be in post instead, but indicated that it was resigned to having to do so.
“Lack of availability of band 5 nurses has led to translation of band 5 resource into band 6 to support recruitment”
Derbyshire Healthcare board papers
The strategy goes against its skill mix policy of having equal numbers of band 5 and band 6 nurses in its “neighbourhood” community teams, the trust admitted in its papers, which noted that a “band 5 skill set is important within the neighbourhood teams”.
But the trust warned that this type of substitution may continue due to the “likely” scenario that fewer nurses will train in the area in the future, following the removal of student bursaries.
“The lack of availability of band 5 nurses has led to translation of band 5 resource into band 6 in order to support recruitment,” said the board papers.
“This is not a trend we would wish to perpetrate but it is acknowledged that this may happen if the training numbers retract further, which given the loss of the bursary seems likely,” they said.
“Converting a band 5 post to a band 6 reduces overall capacity but reduces the need for agency and improves capacity in the short term,” stated the papers.
“We are on occasion flexible with the level of post we appoint to, according to skills and experience”
“The risk remains that moving resources to higher grades of pay and higher skilled workers will impact the medium to long term finances of the trust and mean that highly skilled workers will be undertaking work that could be done by lower grades of staff,” added the trust.
The organisation is mainly filling staff gaps in this way in its community services, but also occasionally in its acute mental health services, the organisation told Nursing Times.
In a statement provided to Nursing Times, its executive director of nursing Carolyn Green said the organisation constantly monitored the availability of staff and adapted its recruitment techniques to ensure it attracted candidates throughout the year.
Staff nurse shortage forces trust to hire more band 6s
“Similar to colleagues working nationwide, the trust has recently experienced difficulties in recruiting appropriately trained staff to some of our clinical posts,” she said.
“We are committed to empowering our managers to staff their teams effectively, within an agreed framework,” she said. ”In order to achieve this, we are on occasion flexible with the level of post we appoint to, according to an individual’s skills and experience.
“For example, this can include recruiting more band 6s at periods when we have a high number of appointable applicants and more band 5s during periods when recruiting newly qualified members of staff. This approach enables the trust to ensure it has a range of appropriately qualified staff and reduces any unnecessary agency expenditure,” added Ms Green.