Leeds Teaching Hospitals trust has recruited an extra 150 nurses over the last two years, with a further 40 due to join between now and January. The trust has also attracted 42 extra consultants since 1998.Overall its staff turnover rate has dropped from 17 per cent to around 10 per cent.

The main success factor at the trust, which employs around 15,000 staff, has been the appointment of two full-time recruitment and retention nurses, who co-ordinate the nurse recruitment process across the trust.

They ensure, for example, that if three good candidates apply for the same job, the two unsuccessful candidates are put forward for posts elsewhere in the organisation rather than lost to other employers.

The trust is recruiting nurses from the Philippines, having sent a representative out there earlier this year to interview candidates across a range of specialties. It is set to recruit 120 nurses from there, on two-year fixed-term contracts. It has also established a nurse cadet scheme and a clinical support worker programme, and is working on its information technology infrastructure to improve the way in which early retirees from the service are identified and dealt with.

Human resources director Jim McCaffrey says if improving recruitment is dealt with cohesively across the whole organisation, a great deal can be achieved.

'You have to have the nursing director, medical director and personnel director working hand in hand, along with the individual operational directors, ' he says. 'I'm not seeking to minimise the scale of the challenge, but if you put HR centre stage and boil down the NHS plan targets from national to trust level, you start to see that local innovations can make a really big difference.'