Private sector trying to poach NHS nurses with training offer

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust warned in recent board papers that, as a result of continuing professional development (CPD) funding cuts, private sector providers were offering its staff recruitment incentives in a bid to try and lure them away.

“Staff retention and access to continuing professional development in the NHS is a national issue”

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust

The lack of funding “continues to have an impact on the NHS ability to retain staff”, the April board papers stated.

The warning was contained within the trust’s annual workforce staffing report, which was written by Catherine-Anne Wilkins, head of nursing – workforce.

It said: “This has had a recent impact on theatre and anaesthetic staff who are being offered courses by the private sector as a recruitment incentive.”

A spokeswoman at the trust confirmed that the issue had specifically affected its nurses.

The trust is now working on ways to help retain staff by introducing a range of work-based learning initiatives and by pledging to support nurses to apply for grants where possible, she said.

“Staff retention and access to continuing professional development in the NHS is a national issue and has been for some time,” she said.

In a bid to address the issue, the highlighted that the trust had launched a Nightingale Nurse Award, which is accredited by King’s College London.

“We are also looking at a range of work-based learning initiatives and will continue to support our staff to apply for grants where we can,” she added.

The workforce report also said that, as of the end of February 2019, the trust’s nursing and midwifery budgeted establishment was 6,549.44 whole-time equivalents (WTE) with 5714.36 WTE staff in post.

As previously reported by Nursing Times in 2017, Health Education England announced its budget for “workforce development” – which is largely used for CPD for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals – would be slashed from £104.3m to £83.49m in 2017-18.

However, both HEE and NHS England have recently responded to such concerns. The chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, personally pledged to ensure the CPD funding cuts for nurses were reversed while giving a keynote speech at the chief nursing officer for England’s summit in March.

Meanwhile, in December HEE held out an olive branch to trusts concerned about previous cuts to their training budgets for nurses and midwives.

Calum Pallister, director of finance at HEE, committed £50m of the money for “workforce development” during 2019-20 in advance to offer employers reassurance and allow extra time for planning.