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NHS rolls out staff retention scheme as part of the Long Term Plan

A scheme that has helped keep more than 1,000 nurses, midwives and other clinicians in the NHS will be rolled out to cover staff working in general practice as well as wider hospital roles.


A ‘transfer window’ will allow staff to move within the NHS between areas while developing new skills. Rewards from local businesses like discount gym membership and targeted mentoring for new joiners are among the incentives used to keep them.


Over the last two years the National Retention Programme (NRP) has seen experts work with 145 NHS Trusts to help them find ways to retain staff and figures for the first 15 months show that more than 1,100 who would have left decided to stay.


Analysis reveals that the scheme means the equivalent of 800 fewer full time nurses have left the NHS since the start of the scheme.


These reductions mean both national nursing staff turnover rates and clinical mental health staff turnover rates are the lowest they have been for five years. Now the programme is being rolled out to other Trusts and expanded into general practice as part of the NHS People Plan.


Speaking at King's Fund annual leadership and management summit in London, NHS Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, acknowledged that many staff - particularly women - find the NHS is not flexible enough as an employer and admitted that action is needed on areas such as pensions. 


"It’s right that local NHS employers are now themselves increasingly taking common sense action to support, develop and retain their staff,” he says.


As well as prompting hospitals to adopt incentives to stay Trusts are also offering “itchy feet” interviews where staff get the opportunity to talk to bosses about why they might leave.


Analysis also shows that since the beginning of the retention scheme, national nursing staff turnover rates have fallen from 12.5% to 11.9%, and mental health clinical staff turnover rates have fallen from 14.3% to 13.4%.