NHS staffing campaign ignores retention issue

A national campaign to encourage staff back to the NHS has come under fire
for failing to address the service’s retention problem.

The recruitment drive, launched last February, has attracted 5,000 nurses
and midwives. But although the Government is hailing the return-to-practice
campaign a success, practitioners believe that more should be done to keep
staff in the health service.

Lew Swift, human resources director at Aintree Hospital Trust, questioned
the value of high-profile campaigns.

"I have a long-held belief that when nurses want to come back they will
come back. They are not necessarily attracted by glitzy advertising
campaigns," he said.

"You might as well fill a wheelbarrow full of fivers and wheel it round
the back and tip it into the boiler. I would say this campaign has had a
marginal effect."

Simon Williams of the Royal College of Nursing said, "We think it is an
encouraging start to the programme, but it is not enough to attract nurses back
to the profession, you have to keep them there. You need a highly valued
profession with good opportunities."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health claimed the results show the NHS
is "turning the corner on nurse recruitment".

She said it had led to 2,600 nurses and midwives returning to the NHS with a
further 2,400 due to return after completing refresher training.

Finding staff is said to be especially difficult in the South East, in
particular in Surrey and Hampshire, with many employers turning to overseas
staff to fill posts.

Low pay, widespread changes to rota patterns, and training cuts are all said
to have contributed to a growing recruitment crisis in the NHS over the past 10
years.

By Helen Rowe

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