Offering flexibility to NHS patient-facing staff, through more options for remote working, can and will, help solve NHS staff retention issues in a post pandemic healthcare system, writes Visiba Care’s Tina Marshall

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Articles published over the past few weeks outlined the news that a range of restrictions on NHS flexible working requests are set to be scrapped, following an agreement between health service employers and unions aimed at boosting work-life balance and staff retention. This is a topic Visiba Care has been at the heart of and championing for a long time.

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Recently we conducted some telling research which uncovered the true extent to which flexible working options could have a positive impact on retaining NHS employees.

The number of patient facing NHS staff considering leaving the organisation has increased by a third over the course of the third lockdown. Our findings revealed 45 per cent of doctors, nurses and allied healthcare professionals are now considering leaving the NHS a figure which is up by 32 per cent compared to the result of the National NHS staff survey taken in November 2020.

Junior doctors are most likely to leave with 60 per cent of them stating they were considering leaving the organisation, closely followed by 55 per cent of nurses and main reasons cited for this were work/life balance, high workload and own mental health.

For Visiba Care the most outstanding finding we made was the fact that many claimed a hybrid approach would be preferable with over two thirds, reporting that they would prefer the opportunity to occasionally work remotely. The NHS-exodus could absolutely be stimmed by more remote working options according to our survey results – with over three quarters of those thinking about leaving their NHS organisation stating a robust digital system, allowing more flexibility, would change their minds.

We also found that of the respondents that have worked from home at some point within the NHS, a large majority, 92 per cent agreed that working from home remotely throughout the pandemic has given them greater flexibility with their working hours.

Visiba Care is a secure virtual care platform enabling healthcare providers to provide accessible and effective care online through their own branded virtual clinic. Our work has shone a light on some shocking statistics surrounding NHS staff retention.

We all know it has been a really tough year for employees working for the NHS, but it is interesting to note that many said a digital first solution would help lessen their want to leave the organisation.

Putting a greater focus on flexible working is vital right now. The mix of a digital and a physical approach will really help to transform pathways for patients and in turn this could really help the NHS in retaining their much needed and very much valued staff.