Published: 02/12/2004, Volume II4, No. 5934 Page 37

Carolyn Regan, chief executive, North East London SHA

What is the single biggest cause of the problems in recruiting staff in your area?

The high cost of living and house prices.

House prices in London are 60 per cent higher than the average house price in England. Wages cannot match that. Even when you take house prices out of the equation, the cost of living in London is 10 per cent higher than Edinburgh and 7 per cent higher than Manchester.

To what extent can changes in skill-mix help to ease your recruitment difficulties?

Different ways of working as well as changes in skill-mix have helped, such as greater use of nurse consultants and the hospitals at night project, which makes greater use of nurses, clinical site managers and administration staff to chase up test records.

Have the new general medical services/ consultant contracts helped or hindered recruitment of clinical staff?

More flexible working and better career paths are the two things that clinicians like, but it is too early to say whether the new contracts have made much difference. We must also not forget Agenda for Change in this.

What can be done, or is being done, to ease recruitment of non-clinical staff to London trusts and PCTs?

We are looking at wider access, working with schools and colleges, and Jobcentre Plus. A good example was a jobs fair we held for young people in Newham.

Without any advertising we had 2,000 young people there, which is an indicator of the interest.

How significant have you found foreign staff (clinical and non-clinical) in easing the recruitment pressures in your SHA?

We have increasingly been looking to recruit local people, to give them the opportunity to come and develop their skills through the skills escalator and Agenda for Change . We have recruited four consultant psychiatrists and some GPs from overseas. We are also working with refugee professionals to help them through the maze of registration requirements.