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  • 14 June 2021
  • 7 min read

Retention In Nursing And How We Can Achieve It

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    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Richard Gill
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Mat Martin
  • 1
  • 1816
"Senior interactions to discuss development plans could enable both the ward and the individual to create a potential career pathway."

Staff retention is a battle for any organisation, but nursing is forever battling burnout, career ambitions, pay disputes and most recently the Covid 19 pandemic. Placing value on an individual’s worth, training and career progression are areas which I have personally looked at in my own career since qualifying in 2018.

Topics Covered In This Article

Training And Workshops

Development And Senior Interaction

Feedback And Team Meetings

NHS Pay vs Private / Agency Nursing

NHS Pension

Social Interaction Outside The Workplace

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Training And Workshops

Although much focus is on pay, I believe that training is the most important aspect of retaining nurses.

So how do NHS organisations fare against agency working or the private sector? NHS organisations offer lots of mandatory training and offer additional training which you are encouraged to attend which is all part of your training as an employee so there is no cost.

There is also the option to apply for additional courses for example ‘deteriorating patient course’ offered by local universities which is funded by the trust you work for.

When training is arranged through NHS organisations all these days are classed as study days which you are paid for.

However, if you work for NHS Professionals for example as I currently do, mandatory training still applies but this will be done in your own time and you will not be paid for the day neither any travel expenses to attend the training.

Also, if you wanted to source extra training courses such as the ‘deteriorating patient course’, you would be expected to arrange and self-fund it on your own.

The private sector has impacted on the retention of nurses within the NHS as they are offering Continuing Professional Development  as part of their employment package to attract nurses away from the NHS.

The NHS has had budget cuts to training and with staff shortage issues forcing training to often being cancelled it is obvious to lure to private sector or agency working.

Development And Senior Interaction

Regardless of the organisation, there are some nurses who wish to develop skillsets whilst also focusing on their leadership skills for further career progression.

Within the NHS this scenario can often be a leader in staff retention as a junior member of staff (Band 5) may wish to move a senior post but there may be none available within their current ward.

This then often means that staff member moves on, something which could be potentially avoided with training and development plans through senior interaction

Senior interactions to discuss development plans could enable both the ward and the individual to create a potential career pathway for the person to move towards a more senior position but attending courses and taking more responsibility within their ward setting.

Appraisals at the end of each year are a great time to have these discussions although I am far too aware that these opportunities are often missed.

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Feedback And Team Meetings

The coverage of the Covid 19 pandemic has shone a lot of positivity towards the NHS from clapping on a Thursday night to Captain Tom Moore’s fundraising efforts.

However, both pre and post covid there are often negative stories regarding waiting times, poor care or the unavailability of services.

Senior staff have important roles in providing positive feedback when excellence of care has happened or when service improvement projects have been a success within their setting.

Team meetings can also be used as a positive.

For example, just saying thanks to the team and everything they are doing to continue to deliver the service they are.

Senior staff set the example so their attitudes and behaviours within ward settings often set the atmosphere on the ward.

They can inject positivity and good harmonious teamwork to create a more positive approach to day-to-day tasks.

NHS Pay vs Private / Agency Nursing

Nursing pay is a factor which will always cause dispute amongst nurses and NHS vs private sector pay is a battle that will continue even past my nursing career

The Agenda for Change could be argued as both a positive and negative initiative.

However the occurrence of the Covid 19 pandemic has once again thrown nurses pay into the limelight.

The UK realised that’s nurses are highly skilled workers who in the middle of the crisis put their lives at risk daily and they should be rewarded with a pay rise to match their efforts during what is undoubtedly an unprecedented time.

However, there are different NHS pay rates for the same bands within nursing.

For example, London weighting means an average of £5,000 higher pay rate than those working in other parts of the country.

Looking at NHS Professionals and other nursing agencies they offer higher hourly pay and flexibility around working hours which is a huge draw to nurses, which is why I personally work for NHS Professionals as it gives more flexibility around work life balance.

Private nursing is largely seen as the best paid nursing work and it is hard to argue when you see the numeration packages offered.

Often includes higher wages, company cars or car allowance, private pension and private healthcare.

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NHS Pension

The NHS pension is highly regarded as one of the best company pensions offered from any company, especially in the UK.

Benefits of the NHS pension are receiving tax relief on your contributions and you get a tax-free lump sum, when you retire, within certain limits.

If you leave the NHS, the pension is frozen and if you return regardless of the gap the pension will be reactivated under scheme guidelines.

In the event of death, the pension will pay a lump sum to a nominated person as specified on the pension scheme.

Social Interaction Outside The Workplace

The importance of social activities as a healthcare worker is especially important for your own health and again has been highlighted throughout the Covid 19 pandemic.

Arranging social activities which could include bowling, drinks and meal at a restaurant or even a picnic in the park.

This helps people get to know one another and creates strong working and personal relationships.

These are invaluable for organisations and the individuals who staff them.

When arranging social activities be mindful of peoples commitments and beliefs trying to include or make it accessible to everyone.

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About the author

I qualified as an Adult nurse in September 2018 and took a job to work as a Trauma & Orthopaedic Nurse in the East of England. In August 2020 I left this role and went to the private sector briefly, but this did not work out. I am now currently working for NHS Professionals as a Registered Nurse in the East of England gaining experience around different specialties but can often be found on the Orthopaedic wards.

    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Richard Gill
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Mat Martin
  • 1
  • 1816

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    • Tracie Mckelvie 2 years ago
      Tracie Mckelvie
    • Tracie Mckelvie
      2 years ago

      I agree in that valuing nurses by encouraging and supporting [and not compromising resources] training and career development is key. ... read more