A “mental health partnership” in the capital has been awarded funding for a nursing development programme.
The South London Mental Health Partnership has been awarded £800,000 by Health Education England in order to try to attract and recruit mental health nurses.
“By working together we will be able to make sure mental health services are sustainable”
The funding will be used to help address mental health nurse recruitment and retention challenges across South London.
An NHS Employers survey, published in December 2015, found 18% of nurse posts in South London were vacant, and mental health community and inpatient posts were the most difficult to recruit to.
The partnership compromises South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust.
The three trusts said they were committed to developing new roles, particularly for healthcare assistants, to help meet the needs of service users, as well as maximising their ability to recruit and retain newly qualified nurses.
They also said they recognised that other professions and branches of nursing might provide another resource that could help respond to these needs.
“We’ll have more impact if we join forces to try to meet the challenge head on”
South West and St George’s chief executive David Bradley said the project was a “unique opportunity” to shape career development opportunities for nurses working in mental health on a “national basis”.
“Work is already underway within the three trusts to address the recruitment and retention challenge,” he said.
“By coming together to focus on innovation and sharing we will be better able to protect our services and improve the lives of hundreds and thousands of people who live with mental illness across south London,” he added.
South London and Maudsley chief executive Dr Matthew Patrick highlighted that the recruitment and retention of practitioners and nurses was “a very real challenge for our trusts”.
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“I hope this programme will make a real difference, share learning, expertise and innovation to help us drive up quality,” he said. “Our organisations have much in common and by working together we will be able to make sure mental health services are sustainable.”
Oxleas chief executive Ben Travis added: “All trusts face the same challenge in trying to recruit and retain certain key staff. We’ll have more impact if we join forces to try to meet the challenge head on.”
The partnership, the first of its kind in the capital, is intended to bring together the clinical expertise of NHS staff to help identify areas of best practice that will be rolled out consistently across South London.
The trusts in the partnership have committed to combine resources to improve the effectiveness of services, streamline processes and reduce costs, while maintaining excellent patient care.