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Scheme to tempt back former nurses to NHS set for launch


A major campaign is due to be launched today to encourage former nurses to rejoin the profession in order to alleviate the current shortage of staff in the NHS.

As exclusively revealed last week by Nursing Times, the national education and training body hopes to tempt former nurses by paying the full cost of return to practice courses and offering guaranteed placements in trusts.

Health Education England plans to spend almost £5m on the scheme, according to Nursing Times sister title Health Service Journal.

It will also be used to cover expenses for returning nurses including travel, childcare and books.

“This is a quick way to get nurses into the system… It is the right thing to do”

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt

The £4.7m investment will be spread over three years, with £2m due to be spent this financial year, £1.5m earmarked for 2015-16 and £1.2m in 2016-17.

HEE’s push on return to practice recruitment comes at a time of widespread staff shortages with many NHS trusts forced to recruit staff overseas.

The body has already increased the number of pre-registration nurse training places at universities by 9% this year.

The Come Back campaign, due to launched today, significantly extends HEE’s statutory duty, which only covers the education and training of the future healthcare workforce.

The Francis report into failures at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust and new requirements on safe staffing have helped drive the recruitment of an extra 8,700 nurses in the NHS since August last year.

Research by HEE earlier this year found nurses looking to return to the NHS had to fund the cost themselves, often struggled to find courses in their areas and had to arrange placements with NHS trusts themselves.

Nurses who returned to practice often had lower drop-out rates and stayed in the job until they retired, the research also found.

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, director of nursing at HEE and chair of the return to practice steering group, said the project would not tackle the shortage of nurses in the NHS on its own.

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt

“This is a quick way to get nurses into the system; HEE has taken the lead and pulled the system together,” she said. “It is the right thing to do,” she said.

“Our role in the system is to enable the right people to get to the right place at the right time, and this has been our rationale for this project,” she added.

Jan Stevens, HEE national director for West Midlands who led the work for HEE, said: “We have listened to experiences from up and down the country and we have worked hard to address the issues which have been preventing successful returns to practice.”


Readers' comments (19)

  • Ellen Watters

    A good support system and a fair wage might tempt me back .. There are many aspects that I miss.

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  • And also attitudes of some manager needs to sorting out too.

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  • When all current NHS managers are replaced by people who can manage properly, don't bully staff, don't appoint their unsuitable relatives to posts, support clinicians, stand up to idiot politicians...And we get pay rises that at least keep pace with inflation...And the NMC stop bumping up registration fees...I might start to think about it...Not holding my breath though.

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  • Good luck with that. Staff are literally counting the days until they retire. Maybe if these staff had been treated well in the first place would've stayed with the NHS.

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  • I retired from the NHS in 1998. I could see the changes which were not for the better before I left. I sometimes meet staff still employed in the NHS. So many of them speak about how many years, months, weeks and days until they can retire. There appears to be so much stress in nursing.

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  • How much support give to RTP nurses? None from personal experience. Lots of talk about personalised training plans, support that will be given. When it come down to it then you are expected to fit into their standardised orientation plan and left to find your own way. Absolutely zero understanding of the chasm of changes you try very hard to assimilate, getting to grips with completely different working practices and all with an entirely new definition of team working know as "I'm alright Jack". I have found my way and confidence, but it took me four yrs I joined NHSP and found some very supportive staff. I may not have got back my previous career seniority as an E grade (band6) but for the moment I am happy working flexibly and learning new skills.

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  • I retired early due to the staffing levels. Employing agency staff who earnt far more than me. Taking no responsibility.They couldn't use the computers,so no updating of records. Unable to do EP ,couldn't use equipment,such as PCA pumps Epidural pumps, grazeby's etc. So not only was I doing my work i was carrying them as well!!! For half the pay. We had no help from management. WHY DO WE NEED SO MANY MATRONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!. WE COULD EMPLOY 3 HCA'S for one of them. Get rid of them all Just leave one per hospital and pay the rest of the staff more!

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  • Good to see that the NHS in England is at last copying the excellent model adopted by NHS Wales 14 years ago. A free course, with a bursary and funding for child care. Returning to practice takes commitment and courage, returnees deserve all the help and support available.

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  • Looking after the staff currently employed wouldn't be a bad idea either!

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  • Why are you trying to retrieve former nurses to work in The NHS?
    Why dies The NHS not try working out how to keep the staff they have?
    Better wages AND conditions would be a good start.
    I have worked in The NHS for over 30 years and it has become worse and worse.
    No proper break facilities, even if you get time for your unpaid break!
    No changing rooms or laundry facilities now. Not enough lockers to store your things in securely.
    Not enough staff to cover the shift, so care becoming substandard.
    The worry is anyone coming for the next shift so you can go home?
    Being railroaded into long days ie 14/15 hour shifts so the ward can be 'covered' NOT. Phone calls on your day off .can you come in'.
    I could go on and on, as I imagine we all could.
    Please look after the staff you already have then they might stay or even come back from Maternity Leave.

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