Why nurses and midwives are leaving this Greater Manchester hospital trust

One trust lost nearly 2,500 staff last year, a new report says.
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Hospitals are being urged to improve their recruitment process as more nurses and midwives are leaving their jobs due to NHS pay rates and seeking a better work life balance, a Northern Care Alliance report has said.

The NCA, who run care across Salford, Oldham, Rochdale and Bury, have highlighted that the retention of staff is an area of concern.

A board of directors meeting for the NCA, held on 26 April, was told that the trust lost 2,419 staff members over the course of 2021/22.

One of the largest areas of concern is nursing and midwifery, where the NCA saw the equivalent of one in seven leaving in 2021/22.

What did the report say?

“During 21/22, 2,419 colleagues left the NCA, equivalent to one in eight staff,” the People Report said. 

“As indicated, this varies by Care Organisation and profession and much work has been done in the last three months to identify hotspots and work on action plans to address key issues. In the highest areas, Bury and Diagnostics and Pharmacy, one in seven colleagues left, and again in the staff groups with the highest turnover (Additional Clinical Service which includes Healthcare Support Workers), Nursing and Midwifery, Admin and Clerical and Allied Health Professionals we also saw one in seven leaving. 

“This rate compares to one in seven nationally for Nursing and Midwifery so we are not an outlier. We know retirement and work life balance are the two most common reasons for people leaving, although there is increasing evidence that in more junior posts – healthcare support workers and administrative staff pay rates in the private sector are more attractive as the economy grows post pandemic. 

“As NHS pay rates are not keeping pace with other sectors this will become an increasing challenge.”

What needs to improve?

The trust were also told that they need to do more to streamline their recruitment process as they lose out on 1,850 healthcare employees offered jobs. The NCA offered more than 5,000 job offers in the last 12 months with only 3,150 actually starting with them.

“The recruitment team have made over 5,000 offers over the past 12 months with 3,150 starts resulting from those offers,” the People Report continued. “We have more to do to streamline processes to ensure we are not losing candidates due to long delays from offer with checks being completed as well as speedier authorisation up front.

“As of March 2022 we have recruited 394 international nurses since 2017. Our structured training programme has an excellent reputation which means we continue to attract interest in working here from overseas nurses. 

“We have successfully bid for funding of £759k to recruit an additional 209 nurses this year partnering with NHS Professionals as well as the two Greater Manchester hubs for international recruitment. We already recruit a number of medics and clinical fellows from overseas and are looking to expand our efforts to include Operating Department Practitioners, Midwives, Radiographers and Healthcare Scientists in the coming year.”

Whilst the trust has invested in their recruitment policy, they are also working on ways to retain staff members. Their key actions we are taking to improve retention include:

  • New exit survey launched providing much more in-depth analysis of leavers
  • Sharing learning on best practice, for example: ‘Stay With Us’ conversations at Rochdale, which are being targeted at those within two years of joining where turnover is particularly high
  • Embedding their approach to agile working to increase flexibility for colleagues
  • Looking at how they communicate career development opportunities and career paths
  • Reiterating the importance of ‘My Time’ conversations
  • Ensure colleagues moving on leave with a positive impression of the NCA