Health Professions July 12, 2019
NHS England announce new retention measures to stem workforce loss

By News Feature - Accountable Care Journal

New measures announced by NHS England to boost staff retention amidst ongoing workforce crisis look to allow staff to move within the NHS and develop new skills. But is this, alongside a new rewards system, enough to keep people in the health service despite ongoing pressures?

Over the last two years, the National Retention Programme (NRP) has seen experts work with 145 NHS trusts to help them find and to retain staff. Figures for the first 15 months show that more than 1,100 who would have left decided to stay. Analysis shows that the scheme means the equivalent of 800 fewer full-time nurses have left the NHS since the start of the scheme. However, is this simply mitigating the damage or does it show staff are now happy to stay for the long term?

The programme is being rolled out to other trusts and expanded into general practice as part of the NHS People Plan, on the basis that this is having a significant impact. Rewards from local businesses like discount gym membership and targeted mentoring for new joiners are among the incentives used to keep staff.

Announcing the plan at the King's Fund, Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, said: "Three-quarters of our staff are women but only half say the NHS is flexible enough as an employer. So as well as a need for action on areas such as pensions, it’s right that local NHS employers are now themselves increasingly taking common-sense action to support, develop and retain their staff."

Going further, trusts are now being prompted to adopt 'itchy feet' interviews to give staff the opportunity to talk to staff before they leave.

Prerana Issar, chief people officer at the NHS, said the 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."

NHS England is also looking to place a greater burden of care on primary services delivered through new Primary Care Networks. Here, £4.5 billion of extra funding will be allocated per year as well as incentives to recruit 20,000 new primary care staff to support early intervention and prevention initiatives.

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