nurses - MCHFT careers fair at Leighton Hospital

Leighton Hospital bosses hope a fresh drive to hire nurses from abroad will help cut spending on agency staff, writes Stephen Topping.

Directors at Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust gave their backing for plans to embark on an international recruitment programme.

The scheme is expected to cost £425,000, and the trust hopes it will reduce its number of nursing vacancies, boost morale among its workforce and cut its spending on agency nurses in its busiest wards by 25%.

Tracy Bullock, chief executive, said: “This is absolutely the right way forward.

“It is not simply a case of going out and recruiting – these nurses come ready-to-go.”

Mid Cheshire Hospitals currently recruits from abroad on an ad-hoc basis.

But the new scheme will see the trust use an international recruitment agency which will guarantee a certain number of nurses are hired and fully-trained by the time they arrive.

It is hoped this will be a more cost-effective approach – with new, qualified nurses able to begin work in six months, compared to the 12 months it currently takes to prepare international recruits.

Trust chairman Dennis Dunn MBE said: “This is a compelling business case – we have to do it.

“But there is also something about the diversity of recruiting nurses from overseas and the benefits that brings to our workforce and to our patients.

“And if the agency doesn’t recruit the nurses – it won’t get the money.”

The trust has spent more than 100% of its target budget on nursing every month since June 2018.

According to most recent figures, Mid Cheshire Hospitals did see its annual staff costs drop by £192,000 in January – with the trust making greater use of ‘bank staff’ who work on a flexible basis, but at a lower cost than agency staff.

But agency spend is still above the trust’s plan – and directors were told the trust now expects it will exceed the cap on agency spend for 2018-19 that was set with NHS regulators.

“We are seeing bank use increase and agency staff reduce,” said Heather Barnett, director of workforce and organisational development.

“We need to see that be sustained over the next couple of months.”

One Comment

  1. Caroline Loftus-Harding says:

    I previously worked in the nhs in high risk podiatry clinics and found them increasingly busier. The move in podiatry is to do at risk and high risk only. Which is incredibly challenging, interesting and exhausting. We found that to do that full time was probably putting new podiatrists off. If you are newly qualified you often didn’t have the skill base and speed to deal with these clinics. Because of that a lot of podiatrists leave the nhs. The conditions are very challenging. It’s a similar for the nurses. One option to help this situation could be a much more flexible approach on the working week. At present there is a rule where part time nurses and podiatrists can’t wotk less than 3 full days. This is madness if you allowed much more flexibility you would retain staff and it would be easier to cover if staff go off for any reason. It also allows a work life balance which is completely missing in the nhs . I don’t understand who proposed and passed this. Years ago you could work much better hours and I’ve always found part time staff give over and above on their working day. Recruiting staff back to the nhs that have left could be an interesting campaign, worth some investment.

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