Published: 31/10/2002, Volume II2, No. 5829 Page 9

The NHS recruitment crisis is significantly worse for allied health professionals than nurses, with more than nine out of 10 trusts facing problems hiring AHPs, a survey by the Association of Healthcare Human Resource Management shows.

In the survey of HR directors at 94 trusts of all kinds, 91 per cent reported medium or high recruitment difficulties for AHPs, compared with 75 per cent struggling to recruit nurses and 58 per cent reporting midwives.

Although 24 per cent of trusts reported an improvement in nurse and midwife recruitment over the past year, compared with 6 per cent saying the situation had worsened, figures for AHPs were less favourable, with 18 per cent of trusts saying their recruitment had improved against 11 per cent reporting a deterioration.

Nearly two-thirds of trusts reported medium or high difficulties retaining nurses and AHPs, while just under half had problems retaining midwives.

The survey found flexible working patterns, access to development opportunities and family friendly policies were the most effective measures to improve retention of nurses, midwives and AHPs.

John Langran, senior consultant at NHSP, an independent HR management consultancy operating within the NHS which carried out the survey for AHHRM, said:

'There are supply problems in terms of the number of AHPs coming through training and there is a clear alternative of private practice for some.'

He added that the problems recruiting AHPs varied according to specialty and in some cases there were particular problems recruiting to more senior posts.

AHHRM president Elaine Way said she would raise the issue in meetings with the UK's four national NHS HR directors. She added: 'We need to try to influence the people who commission training of AHPs to increase the supply.

We also need to link in with the educational establishment.

'Let's not just focus on recruiting doctors and nurses - we have to continue with that, but not take our eye off the ball in recruiting these other members of our multi-disciplinary teams.'