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NHS nursing recruitment

February 5 2002 - The Government claims to have already met the key NHS Plan target of an extra 20,000 nurses and midwives in the NHS by 2004, based on figures released today.

The NHS Plan aimed for 20,000 nurses in the NHS between September 1999 and September 2004. By September 2001 there was a net increase of 20,740. Most of the increase is accounted for by the recruitment of 14,400 nurses. But this is only a rise of 4.3 per cent since the total headcount of qualified nurses then came to 350,400. In fact, the annual census of employment in the NHS showed net increases right across the board with the overall NHS workforce also increasing by 4.3% to a staggering 1,166,000. It is not surprising that the NHS is often described as Europe's largest employer. Figures for other grades showed:

* Number of hospital consultants rose by 1,380 to 25,690 (5.7 per cent).

* Number of trainee hospital consultants rose by 490 to 13,220 (3.8 per cent).

* Number of people training to be GPs increased by 224 to 1,883 (13.5 per cent).

* Number of qualified allied health professionals up by by 1,960 to 51,320 (4 per cent).

* Number of unqualified nurses and healthcare assistants rose by by 9,600 to 163,200 (6.3 per cent).

Health Secretary Alan Milburn attributed the increased staffing levels to the success of the Return to Practice initiative along with better pay, improved child care and more flexible working.

Alan Milburn said:

"Today, for all the problems there are in the NHS - which are very real - there are real signs of progress. There is of course a long way to go. After decades of neglect it will take time and effort as well as sustained resources to bring about the sort of modern health service both patients and staff want to see. But the NHS is now moving in the right direction. The investment and reforms that are going in are starting to pay dividends.

"The census figures being published today are good news for NHS patients. The corner has been turned on nurse recruitment. Now, however, is not the time for complacency. There should be no resting on laurels. Instead I now want to build on the progress that has been made. The NHS still needs more nurses.

"We will continue our recruitment campaign - indeed we will launch the third year of it later this month - but I believe it is now time to switch the emphasis from nurse recruitment to nurse retention. We cannot have nurses coming into the NHS through the front door but find more leaving through the back door. Our objective then must be to improve the working lives of nurses to make nursing an even more attractive career."

He announced the news at a summit of nurses and nursing leaders in London, held to discuss further ways to retain staff and improve their working lives. Issues to be discussed at today's summit were:

- Pay, particularly the Government's Agenda for Change pay modernisation programme.
- Training and efforts to ensure nurses have the opportunity to make the fullest contribution possible to patient care.
- Flexible working, including family friendly employment.
- Improving the working environment.
- Involving nurses in decision-making more.

Chief Nursing Officer Sarah Mullally said:

"It is very encouraging that more front-line staff are now working in the NHS and this can only be good news for patients.

"It shows that some effective measures are in place to encourage more nurses, midwives and health visitors to join or return to the NHS. Nurses, midwives and health visitors will also welcome this very good news, and I know that the NHS will continue the hard work in supporting patients. We now need to see what more can be done to increase these measures. We must ensure that we keep these nurses, midwives and health visitors by further improving their working lives."

Previous article:

Recruitment campaign aims to attract staff back to the NHS

A recruitment campaign aimed at attract nurses nurses, midwives, radiographers and other key health professionals back to the NHS was launched 21st September 2000 by Health Minister John Denham and Chief Nursing Officer Sarah Mullally.

Chief Nursing Officer Sarah Mullally said:

"The NHS is now a better place to work. We are appealing to people who have spent time in the NHS but who have left, perhaps for family or other reasons, to come back and rejoin the team."

The new drive is focused on London and the South East and Eastern regions of England. The intention is to build on successful national recruitment campaigns over the past 2 years that have attracted 750 qualified nurses and midwives back into the NHS in these regions, with another 860 are preparing to return. But vacancy rates in London and the South East are higher than the national average so a new campaign is being launched in these areas and also in the Eastern region with a budget of 750,000 to cover both advertising and responses to enquiries about careers in the NHS. An additional 250,000 will support recruitment and retention strategies in theses regions. According to John Denham:

"The NHS is expanding rapidly, which is why we need more nurses, midwives and other staff than ever before.

"The NHS Plan, which we published in July announced that by 2004 there would be an additional 20,000 nurses and 6,500 more therapists and other health professionals in the NHS. We need these staff in order to ensure that we are able to deliver the changes which patients want to see in the NHS.

"Our campaign is backed by a wide range of new measures which will make the NHS a better place to work. We are investing an additional 30 million to improve child-care for NHS staff. All NHS employers will be required to show that they are offering flexible working patterns which meet the needs of their staff. They have also been asked to consider making special efforts to retain staff who may have been planning to retire early. In addition, we have appointed an NHS Housing co-ordinator for London to help staff find suitable places to live. He has the task of finding an extra 2,000 homes in the area in the next three years.

"Since 1997 the pay of qualified nurses, midwives and health visitors has increased by at least 17%. In some cases, it has risen by over a quarter. And earlier this week in our evidence to the independent body responsible for nurse pay we outlined plans to give supplements to nurses and other staff who work in the most hard pressed areas. "


Qualified returners to the NHS, following 1999 and 2000 recruitment campaigns:

   Returners following Feb 1999 campaign Returners following Feb 2000 campaign Total returners since Feb 2000
England 3034 1945 4988
London 258 266 524
Eastern 352 134 486
South East 622 354 976


The initiatives introduced over the past 3 years to improve working lives of NHS staff include:

* Initiatives to allow NHS staff to work flexibly, choosing their own working hours.

* A 'Zero Tolerance' campaign tackling violence against NHS staff.

* Action to deal with racial harassment in the NHS.

* Initiatives to promote equality of opportunity and value diversity within the NHS.

Also, the NHS Plan of July 2000 announced:

* £30 million by 2004 for additional child-care schemes, to include a minimum of 100 more NHS workplace nurseries.

* Every NHS Trust to have a child-care co-ordinator acting as a parents' advocate for flexible working patterns.

* £140 million by 2003/4 for personal development and training.


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