Published: 16/12/2004, Volume II4, No. 5936 Page 34

Peter Absalom is staff resourcing manager at King's College Hospital trust In 2002-03 King's College Hospital trust reduced the vacancy rate for nurses and midwives from 18.9 per cent to 6.6 per cent. Also, staff turnover in that category fell from 22 per cent to 14 per cent.

How did we do this? Stronger brand identity in recruitment advertising, a combination of international, national and local recruitment activity, and emphasis on education and training, and flexible working.

On the international side, for example, we brought in 150 nurses from the Philippines - the key was to take nursing colleagues out there so they could satisfy themselves those we were bringing in were high calibre.

While all these projects increased workload, they became self-funding because we were able to reduce our dependency on agencies.

In the following year our focus switched from bulk numbers to hard-torecruit areas in nursing and allied health.

We reduced our vacancy rate for radiographers, for example, from 25 per cent to virtually zero through a combination of advertising, open days, attending conferences and international recruitment in Australia.

This year we have improved our careers website; people can now register to receive updates on vacancies, and 6,000 people have already done so.

Although We have made progress, there are more challenges ahead. The impact of Agenda for Change on pay and conditions of staff will present its own recruitment and retention problems.

And one of the biggest challenges is going to be the international market. We have attracted transient populations to the UK, but other countries are now targeting both them and their British colleagues.

Peter Absalom wants an Aston Martin or, failing that, a pair of socks for Christmas.