Published: 17/11/2005 Volume 115 No. 5982 Page 37

Sunderland teaching primary care trust has been ranked the best nursing employer in the UK by HSJ's sister title Nursing Times.

The list of the top 100 nursing employers was drawn up through employer and employee questionnaires and employee interviews. Sunderland came out not only best overall, but also best primary care provider and the most family-friendly employer.

The PCT employs around 750 nurses, from the hospice team to district nursing teams in GP surgeries and patients' homes, to health visitors working in family settings. It also includes 12 community matrons and specialist teams focusing on long-term conditions, urgent care and a 24-7 team.

Human resources director Vicki Taylor says the key to the organisation's success is partnership and staff involvement.

'We involve our staff in everything we do. And that means we listen to staff, taking on board what they say, ' she says.

A recent example is an event on training and development where staff explained that it was sometimes difficult to get booked on to courses; the old process meant things could go wrong in the admin process. The trust then set up an electronic booking system through its intranet, for staff to book courses directly.

'You have got to get over defensiveness about 'well, we already do this and that for our staff' and listen to their genuinely constructive feedback, ' says Vicki.

The trust has recently completed its Improving Working Lives practice plus process, and early feedback is 'very positive', says Vicki.

The others in the top 10 were: the Children's Trust; South Essex Partnership trust; Nottingham City Hospital; Gateshead Health foundation trust; the Royal Marsden foundation trust; Walsall Hospitals trust; Eithinog Leonard Cheshire Home; Salford Royal Hospitals trust; and Heart of England foundation trust.