Foundation status key to filling health skills gaps

Foundation hospitals are likely to use their new powers to negotiate local
pay and terms to alleviate skills shortages.

NHS foundation trusts will be the first to be able to implement the
Government’s ‘Agenda for Change’, allowing them to offer different terms and
conditions that are likely to boost recruitment and retention and address local
labour market difficulties.

The Department of Health believes all trusts should eventually achieve
foundation status.

Peter King, executive officer of the Association of Healthcare HR Management
(AHHRM) said: "It is likely foundation trusts will use their status, if
they have cause to. That’s what its there for.

"Recruitment and retention in the NHS has improved enormously over the
last couple of years, but it is still going to be useful tool in specific areas
of shortage," he said.

However, Sam Greenhouse, assistant HR director at the Royal Marsden NHS
Foundation Trust, said the trust would not seek to increase pay for scarce
skills, because of a duty of partnership with the local health community.
Instead, it would use the flexibility offered by foundation status to develop
‘creative’ recruitment methods, she said.

"We are building on things we have already been doing. We are looking
at more flexible ways of working within the requirements. We will look at the
most creative ways of employing staff."

Working outside the standard day, accelerated development and annualised
hours were methods the trust was assessing to fill shortfalls and attract
staff, Greenhouse said.

Iain Patterson, associate HR director at Homerton University Hospital NHS
Foundation Trust, stated the trust would only increase pay in line with the
local NHS community.

"There is no point solving our employment problem by creating problems
for other trusts – that’s a route we will not go down," he added.

By Lindsay Clark

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