East and North Herts NHS Trust strives to recruit more nurses amid national staffing crisis

PUBLISHED: 07:01 04 April 2018

Rachael Corser, director of nursing at the East and North Herts NHS Trust.

Rachael Corser, director of nursing at the East and North Herts NHS Trust.

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As the NHS faces a nursing recruitment crisis nationally, the East and North Herts NHS Trust is looking at new ways to fill the vacancies in its hospitals.

Lister Hospital in Stevenage. Picture: East and North Herts NHS Trust.Lister Hospital in Stevenage. Picture: East and North Herts NHS Trust.

The Trust, which runs Stevenage’s Lister Hospital, has an eight per cent vacancy rate, but director of nursing Rachael Corser is optimistic.

She said: “We have invested a lot of time in how we recruit and retain our staff and have opened up more routes to nursing, such as apprenticeships and trainee nursing associate posts.

“We have more nurses on the frontline this year than last year, and there are very few organisations which can say that.

“There are about 100 more nurses working on the wards compared to 12 months ago, and we have also reduced agency spend significantly.”

She added: “We are looking at different ways to provide care because the nurses aren’t there, and are using innovative projects like the Butterfly Project.” The project is a team of volunteers who support patients during the last days of their lives.

As part of plans to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS, a national campaign has been announced by NHS England to celebrate nurses and attract people to the profession.

Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “We must do anything we can do to attract people and shake off outdated perceptions of nursing. However, we have a huge task on our hands to recruit and retain the next generation of nurses when the current workforce is shrinking.”

Two thirds of respondents to a RCN survey said there aren’t enough staff to do their job properly, with patient care standards heading in the wrong direction.

Brexit is only set to make the staffing crisis worse, and the RCN is calling on the Government to assure tens of thousands of EU nurses and carers that they have the right to stay as the date for exit from the EU gets closer.

More than 60,000 EU citizens work in the NHS, while the NHS already has at least 40,000 too few nurses, with not enough homegrown nurses being trained to fill the gaps.

Ms Corser said: “We want to strengthen the work of nursing across Hertfordshire.

“There is no other profession that’s constant from the cradle to the grave and we have such an impact. To me, there really is no better job.”

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