NHS trusts face uphill struggle to staff up with nurses

More than half of NHS trusts are facing problems in recruiting and retaining nursing staff, according to the nursing pay review body.

The latest survey of 258 NHS trusts in England and Wales employing 207,000 full-time nurses, revealed that 54% found it difficult to recruit qualified nurses.

The main reasons cited for staff departures were stressful working conditions (28%), heavy or increased workloads (23%), followed by poor career prospects and pay (13%).

Fifteen hospital trusts said nurse recruitment was a problem of “major” proportions – with E grade and the more senior G grade staff the most difficult to find. This is despite government figures which show an extra 77,500 nurses, midwives and health visitors have been employed since 1997.

One-third of trusts (31%) also find it hard to keep hold of their nurses once recruited, with the two lowest nursing grades – D and E – the most difficult to retain.

The survey was carried out last year, ahead of the roll-out of the new pay system, Agenda for Change, which is due to be implemented nationally by September.

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