A mental health trust in the East of England is due to more than double its intake of newly-qualified nurses, after offering to pay their registration fees and cover the cost of criminal record checks.
Last year Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust took on just 20 nurses from universities in their local area.
“We are seeing an escalation in these incentives across trusts all over the place but they are only short-term”
But this year it has attracted 47 student nurses to come and work at the organisation from September when they are qualified.
The recruits will all have their £120 Nursing and Midwifery Council annual registration fee paid in their first year of employment by the trust, as well as their Disclosure and Barring Service checks – costing up to £44.
The extra payments are among a number of financial incentives the organisation has brought in since 2016, due to growing competition for staff in the region, reveal trust board papers from January.
Nursing Times has been told that relocation fees – of £1,000 for staff moving into rented accommodation in the area, and up to £8,000 for those buying property – have also been provided to five nurses, whereas previously these had tended to be used by doctors.
The trust is also looking at introducing a pension opt-out scheme this summer, which would increase nurses’ annual salaries by around 9%, in a further bid to attract staff, said the trust.
Director of nursing and quality, Anne-Maria Olphert, told Nursing Times the organisation had started to see a “huge” rise in vacancies, which included nursing staff, in April 2016.
“Long-term it’s more about growing our own staff and getting people to recognise that working for a good trust is the way forward”
Since then the trust had begun using more incentives to compete with other neighbouring organisations that were sometimes offering up to £3,000 bonuses to attract or hold onto workers.
While Lincolnshire Partnership was not always offering as much money as other NHS trusts, Ms Olphert said she believed the organisation’s support and development scheme was part of the attraction, particularly for student nurses considering their first job.
Including the 47 recruits due to start in September, the organisation now has just 2% of nurse posts empty – equal to around nine full-time members of staff.
However, the number of nurses being trained at the nearby University of Lincoln has not increased in recent years and the trust has only been able to bring in more staff by enticing newly-qualified nurses from other local universities as well.
Trust doubles newly-qualified intake after paying NMC fee
Ms Olphert suggested the national shortage of nurses meant the use of financial incentives to recruit staff was only a short-term strategy.
“We are seeing an escalation in these incentives across trusts all over the place but they are only short-term – we’ve found that when other trust’s incentives have stopped we have had interest from their nurses,” she said.
“Long-term it’s more about growing our own staff and getting people to recognise that working for a good trust is the way forward,” she added.
This included supporting more healthcare assistants to train as nurses, attracting out-of-practice nurses to return to the profession, and also being involved in new schemes, such as the nursing associate training programme, she told Nursing Times.