Keeping our talented people

Danny Mortimer

Awards season is upon us, and I have had the honour of judging a number of different award categories recently. It is a genuine privilege of this role, because I read and hear stories of skilled, talented and dedicated individuals that make a difference to patients, every single day. 

The NHS is the biggest employer in Europe, and in my opinion, has some of the very best people working in it. But we cannot pretend that it is without its challenges. We could be better at attracting more talent into the NHS and we could definitely be better at keeping these people and making best use of their skills to benefit our patients, teams and communities.

Colleagues right across the service tell me that retention of our people is harder than ever. The context of six years (and counting) of pay restraint and the increasing demand for services, along with the challenging dependency of our patients is enormously challenging for our workforce. At the same time employers recognise that they cannot just stand by. If anything it is now more important than ever that we keep, develop and reward the incredible people that we have invested in. The longer staff stay with an organisation the more knowledgeable and skilled they become. We know that there is much that organisations can do to encourage people to stay in the workplace. But how do we do it – what is the answer to the retention conundrum?

There is no quick, or easy fix, and when it comes to developing a staff retention plan, one size clearly does not fit all. Each organisation, community and team has some unique features and the challenges will often be different. At the same time there is much that we can learn from each other, as well as from other industries.

This is why, thanks to the support of our chairman Sir Andrew Cash, NHS Employers is funding a new workforce retention programme from our own charitable reserve funds. This will take a focused and targeted approach to supporting individual trusts to create a sustainable retention strategy. Places have been provided to participants free of charge, with the first workshops taking place later this month.

This is a programme we have developed in response to what you, as employers, have told us you need. The programme will take those trusts involved through the process of developing their own plan, with expert facilitators to guide and support but crucially, also to provide HR professionals with the time and space to think. Initially the programme planned to support three cohorts and offer 45 places, but the response to the programme was so high that places for 100 organisations will now be provided across six cohorts – there is a clear demand.

It is fantastic that we are in a position to be able to offer this support to NHS organisations. We have inspiring, talented people in our service, and we must do everything we can to keep them.

Find out more about NHS Employers new workforce retention programme.

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