Workforce and Training

10.07.19

NHS rolls out National Retention Programme to tackle shortages

The NHS has announced that it will be rolling out a employee retention scheme that has already helped keep more than 1,000 nurses, midwives and other clinicians to also cover staff working in general practice as well as hospitals.

Over the last two year the National Retention Programme (NRP) has seen experts work with 145 NHS Trusts to help them to retain staff.

Figures for the first 15 months shows that more than 1,100 who would have left decided to stay. Analysis showed the equivalent of 800 fewer full time nurses have left the NHS since the start of the scheme.

As part of the scheme, a ‘transfer window’ lets staff move within the NHS between areas while developing new skills. Rewards from local businesses like discount gym membership and targeted mentoring for new joiners are among the incentives used to keep them.

READ MORE: NHSI to tackle staff retention challenges with new programme

READ MORE: NHS ‘retention crisis’ has seen more than 200,000 nurses quit since 2010

These reductions mean both national nursing staff turnover rates and clinical mental health staff turnover rates are the lowest they have been for five years.

Now the programme is being rolled out to other Trusts and expanded into general practice as part of the NHS People Plan, NHS England chief executive will tell the King’s Fund think-tank’s annual leadership and management summit in London.

NHS chief executive, Simon Stevens, described the scheme as being crucial, so to ensure that the NHS, as Europe's largest employer, remained an attractive career option for caring, skilled and determined staff.

He said: "It's right that local NHS employers are now themselves increasingly taking common sense action to support, develop and retain their staff.

"Analysis also shows that since the beginning of the retention scheme, national nursing staff turnover rates have fallen from 12.5% to 11.9%, and mental health clinical staff turnover rates have fallen from 14.3% to 13.4%."

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Prerana Issar, chief people officer for the NHS, said: “With staff turnover at a five-year low, it’s clear that the NHS is competing well with other employers to retain the nurses, midwives and therapists that our patients depend on.

"The National Retention Programme has had a promising start and we are now looking to roll out this scheme to other Trusts and into general practice. Getting the right workforce is not just about the number of people we bring in, but keeping and rewarding the team we have.”

"Rolling out the National Retention Programme is just one of the ways that NHS England and Improvement are looking to expand primary care and general practice."

The NHS Long Term Plan will see funding for primary medical and community care increase as a share of the NHS budget for the first time in the health service’s 70-year history, with an extra £4.5 billion a year invested by 2023.

Around 7,000 practices across England – more than 99% – have come together to form more than 1,200 Primary Care Networks. GPs will recruit an estimated 20,000 new staff, including pharmacists, physios and social prescribing link workers, to work alongside them.

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