WORKFORCE: A London mental health trust lost 14 per cent of its nursing workforce over the past two financial years, HSJ analysis has found.

Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre shows West London Mental Health Trust losing nearly one-in-seven of its registered nursing staff since 2013-14 – more than any other English mental health trust.

Broadmoor Hospital

The trust runs services in London and high secure services at Broadmoor Hospital

HSJ compared headcount figures for nurses in the first quarter of 2015-16 with the same period in each of the two previous years.

The most recent data return to the information centre, for June 2015, showed 875 nurses employed substantively by the trust – the lowest in the past two years.

A trust spokeswoman said no posts had been deleted and the lowered staffing numbers were due to vacancies – particularly among band 5 nurses.

The fall in nurse numbers is more than double that of any other London mental health trust. The next highest was South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust, which saw a fall of 6.3 per cent over the same period.

The spokeswoman for Wet London said: “We are actively trying to recruit nurses into the trust. Like many trusts nationally and particularly in London, we face real challenges in recruiting and retaining registered band 5 nurses, complicated further through the limited opportunity to recruit internationally for experienced mental health nurses.

“We have put in place a comprehensive attraction and retention plan that includes introducing monthly assessment centres, recruitment open days in forensic services and local services… more bank recruitment and improved staff benefits, better links with universities and improved career pathways.”

She said that since these measures were introduced, after June 2015, when HSJ’s analysis stops, “senior nurses trust-wide report increasing numbers of nurses per shift”.

The monthly figures have shown a decline every month since June 2014.

Mental health trusts have seen the largest declines in nurse numbers but West London is one of only three of the 10 in the capital to see a decline over the two years.

The trust runs services across three London boroughs plus high secure services at Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire.

Morale has been an issue at the organisation for some time and a new chair was appointed to the trust in May.

Chief executive Steve Shrubb, who joined the trust in 2012, will be stepping down this month.

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The data in this story comes from a larger analysis of agency spending by HSJ.

The research will be discussed and full findings revealed at the War on Variation Summit, in association with McKinsey. Trust directors interested in attending this event please contact HSJ commissioning editor

Analysis: Growth in off-framework agency spending revealed