Nurses at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust will qualify for extra holiday if they help recruit a new nursing colleague as part of a trial scheme to tackle staffing shortages.
The six-month pilot project will mean hospital staff can earn an additional day off if they recommend someone who goes on to work at the trust.
“This is something we’re piloting as part of our wider recruitment efforts, and this particular idea came about through our staff suggestion scheme,” said a trust spokeswoman.
“If a member of staff puts someone forward who ends up either joining our in-house nurse bank or becoming a permanent member of nursing staff, they will be given an extra day of leave,” she said.
“In the current labour market, we’re always open to trying different ideas with regard to recruitment”
She added: “The person recommended has to work at the trust for three months before the referrer is given the extra day or, if they are joining the nurse bank, they have to work six bank shifts in the first three months.”
The trust, which has previously struggled with recruitment, is seeking to recruit band 5 nurses across all of its sites. Any member of staff – not just nurses – can put someone’s name forward under the scheme.
At the moment the “recommend-a-friend” scheme only applies to band 5 staff nurse vacancies, but if it proves successful managers have said they will look at extending it to other “hard-to-recruit posts”.
However, the scheme, which was launched this month, has attracted criticism from local union representatives.
Glenn Turp, regional director for the Royal College of Nursing in the Yorkshire and Humber region, described it as “counter intuitive” and warned that it could make staffing gaps worse.
He said it would make more sense to offer financial incentives to attract and retain nurses.
The scheme has also had a mixed reaction from members of the public following coverage in a local newspaper. Some described it as “pathetic” and “unbelievable”, while others praised the trust for “trying something different”.
The trust said it did not know of any other NHS employers that had tried a similar approach before, but insisted it had weighed up the pros and cons, and decided there was “genuine financial benefit” in the idea.
“The recommend-a-friend scheme is based on the amount we are paying to cover vacancies through agencies on an ad-hoc basis,” the trust spokeswoman told Nursing Times.
“These figures show that, provided the recommendations convert into appointments and we retain the newly-appointed nurse for three months, there is a genuine financial benefit to the trust,” she said.
“That’s not to mention all of the other benefits that come with a reduction in agency usage such as continuity of care for our patients,” she added.
“In the current labour market, we’re always open to trying different ideas with regard to recruitment. However, we will only ever look to doing things that maintain the quality of our appointments,” said the spokeswoman.
She said the trust had also been working closely with local universities and 70 new nurses had been offered jobs over the past four months.
These recruits are set to join the trust in October, subject to registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.