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Patients and staff benefit from recruitment innovation

08 February 2018 by Dawn Slater

Dawn Slater, director of clinical practice and development for Livewell Southwest CIC, shares the organisation’s recruitment and employment innovations in one service which have led to record low vacancy rates.

Hospitals and healthcare services have never been far from the headlines in recent weeks as winter pressures peaked. A common theme of the coverage has been a shortage of nurses – qualified staff leaving and vacancies going unfilled.

According to Janet Davies, Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary, there are now 40,000 nurse vacancies in England alone. NHS Digital figures show 85 per cent of nurse vacancies in the South West and Wessex are unfilled.

But by taking a more creative approach to recruiting and employing its community nurses, Livewell Southwest filled all vacancies in its district nursing service and increased staff retention.

At one point there were 57 full-time equivalent vacancies, representing 45 per cent of the workforce. The picture is now very different with vacancies at just 1%.

We took the chance to rethink the way we recruit and support these vital roles, and introduced service developments to support the nurses, allowing them to focus on their core brief: caring for people.

The steps we took include:

  • Recruitment open days with on-the-spot job provisional offers
  • A robust induction process to support recruits and help with relocation
  • Enhanced and continuing training, including training in moving to community work from hospital-based care
  • A clear, professionally-supported career structure  
  • The development of a Preceptor Programme to support newly-qualified staff entering into district nursing
  • Additional protected time for Nursing and Midwifery Council revalidation and professional development
  • Leadership development with the University of Plymouth
  • The creation of a referral hub as a single point of contact to reduce the admin workload of nurses and improve the clinical face-to-face service for patients
  • The launch of a city-wide dedicated phlebotomy team to alleviate community nurse workload
  • Introduction of a robust caseload supervision policy to support nurses
  • Recruitment of a Community Modern Matron to support and drive the quality agenda
  • Supporting enhanced skills and competency framework for Community Nursing Assistants such as administration of insulin
  • Piloting the Nursing Associate course - our second cohort of 23 trainee nurse associates is underway and we will are planning a third cohort for September.

An unprecedented use of temporary agency staff and the effects of the vacancy level on the district nursing teams including low morale, increased sickness and delays to training prompted the push for change and innovation.

Now staff and patients alike are reaping the benefits.

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