Case Study

Innovative mental health and learning disability nursing recruitment

How Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust boosted applications to their newly qualified mental health and learning disability nursing posts.

17 April 2024

Key benefits and outcomes

  • The trust was able to recruit newly qualified nurses from across the country to ensure the places for newly qualified nurses were filled.
  • The trust created a new guaranteed Band 5 preceptee nurse post for students who complete their placements with the trust and successfully graduate.
  • Relationships were built with higher education institutes beyond their locality.
  • The trust ensured a positive candidate journey from pre-interview support to post-recruitment career advice. 
  • The trust increased the number of student nurses applying for posts by 144 per cent from 34 to 83 students.

What the organisation faced

For the year 2022/2023, the number of local student nurses from University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University applying for the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT) preceptorship programme was significantly less than the number of vacancies available. The trust’s estimated need was for 70 vacancies to be filled, but they only received 34 applications. This caused challenges for future workforce planning and could prevent LYPFT from meeting the needs of their service users in the future.  The long-standing recruitment practice for newly qualified nurses needed to change to focus on attracting out-of-area newly qualified nurses.

What the organisation did

A collaborative out-of-area preceptee working group was created to identify all mental health and learning disability nursing courses across the UK. LYPFT define out of area as a student and university that does not already have a relationship with the trust in the immediate geographical area. 

To engage with third year students set to graduate in the summer of 2023 the trust built relationships with the graduate employment teams at higher education institutes (HEIs) which have sites across the country, ranging from Bradford, Birmingham, Hull, Huddersfield, Staffordshire, Sheffield, Kings College London, Scarborough, Manchester, Essex and Kingston.

These relationships supported additional promotion and marketing of events including recruitment and careers events, online meetings with careers advisors and information webinars for students. The events were advertised across universities’ intranets, websites, notice boards, and social media channels as well as externally.

A new generic preceptorship vacancy was created with an extended application period. This vacancy was left open for six months, compared to LYPFT’s typical two-week application period. This Band 5 preceptee post was a guaranteed position for students who completed their placements with the trust and successfully graduated.

’This pilot project has been a huge success and will now be replicated yearly with a continued national reach, which will strengthen the relationships with new universities.’ Samantha Wragg, Recruitment and Resourcing Manager, Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

The Candidate Journey

The objectives for the project were not limited to filling vacancies; LYPFT aimed to provide a positive candidate journey. During engagement activities, the trust had meaningful conversations with students to answer queries about career opportunities within LYPFT and the NHS. Furthermore, a free webinar was provided to support with interview techniques and to answer queries regarding the recruitment process. The webinar details were sent to the appropriate careers contacts at the universities to enable them to be promoted to student nurses.

Applications to the new preceptee vacancies were received in the usual way via Trac. They were then followed up with a request for the candidates first and second choice of service preference. Normally, LYPFT were able to accommodate most candidate’s requests, and when this was not possible, the recruitment team engaged directly and was able to negotiate a satisfactory result. Following the interview, candidates were given feedback and if they were not successful, support was provided to assist them with future interviews and subsequent careers with the NHS in the future.

Results and benefits

The trust increased the number of student nurses applying for posts by 144 per cent from 34 to 83 students and were able to offer positions to 63 candidates which allowed the trust to get close to the 70 that they thought they required.

 Number interviewedNumber appointed
Out of area5232

The successful out of area candidates were sent a survey to dig deeper into why they chose the preceptorship programme at LYPFT, provide feedback on the recruitment process and advise the teams on areas of improvement.

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