• NHS Improvement now working with 70 NHS trusts to improve staff retention
  • Some trusts plan to improve retention by up to 3 per cent
  • Ruth May backs calls for training budget cuts to be reversed

Seventy NHS trusts have now been recruited by NHS Improvement to its programme to improve workforce retention rates in the health service.

Thirty five more trusts have joined the voluntary scheme (see box), which NHSI launched last June with 35 providers involved.

Ruth May, chief nurse at the regulator, also told HSJ that she believed cuts to continuing professional development budgets by Health Education England and trusts should be reversed to help stem the rising number of staff leaving the service.

MPs on the Commons health committee recently called for the cuts to be reversed to support nurses to stay in their jobs.

Ms May said: “Directors of nursing and frontline nurses tell me all the time how they value their CPD training and how the reduction in the availability of resources to support training is having a negative impact on retention. My personal view is that the cuts to CPD should be reversed because it will support retention and we have evidence for that from our work with trusts.”

All mental health trusts are now included in the retention programme, with NHS Improvement offering targeted support to providers to help them develop bespoke plans.

Trusts in the first wave of the programme have developed specific improvement plans with a focus on supporting newly qualified staff at the beginning of their careers, offering flexibility around rotas and career development, and enhancing “retire and return” schemes for older staff.

The work has been developed to help tackle staff shortages in the NHS, which are exacerbated by the increasing number of people leaving the service. NHSI data from 2016 showed variation in nurse leaving rates across the country – with London recording a rate of 11.4 per cent compared with 7.8 per cent in the north east.

Mark Radford, NHSI’s director of nursing improvement, said: “We are starting to see some real themes emerging nationally such as early years transition, career flexibility, career development and rota flexibility, as well as retire and return. We are seeing some really good engagement from directors of nursing and HR directors, with really comprehensive plans to see improvement in retention over the next 12 months – from 0.5 per cent to 3 per cent depending on the organisation.

“It is too early to show improvement yet, primarily because there is a time lag in the data but one or two trusts are starting to see some improvement but it won’t appear in the data until probably the spring.”

The 35 trusts joining the staff retention programme

  • Black Country Partnership Foundation Trust
  • Central and North West London FT
  • The Hillingdon Hospitals FT
  • East London FT
  • Colchester Hospital University FT
  • Lincolnshire Partnership FT
  • North Middlesex University Hospital Trust
  • North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare Trust
  • East and North Hertfordshire Trust
  • South London and Maudsley FT
  • Aintree University Hospital FT
  • Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust (part of Northern Care Alliance Group)
  • Salford Royal FT (now part of Northern Care Alliance Group)
  • Cornwall Partnership FT
  • Devon Partnership Trust
  • Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust
  • Oxford Health FT
  • Sussex Partnership FT
  • Cambridge University Hospitals FT
  • Essex Partnership University Trust
  • Worcestershire Health and Care Trust
  • Leeds Community Healthcare Trust
  • Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare Trust
  • Sheffield Health and Social Care FT
  • Stockport FT
  • West London Mental Health Trust
  • Southend University Hospital FT (part of Basildon, Southend and Mid Essex Group)
  • Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals FT (part of Basildon, Southend and Mid Essex Group)
  • Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust (part of Basildon, Southend and Mid Essex Group)
  • Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust
  • Derby Teaching Hospitals FT
  • Nottingham University Hospitals Trust
  • Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust
  • Northern Lincolnshire and Goole FT
  • South West Yorkshire Partnership FT

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