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NHS nurse retention scheme to be extended to general practice staff

An NHS retention scheme that has stopped hundreds of hospital nurses from leaving the health service will be rolled out to include general practice staff, NHS England has announced.

In the last two years, the National Retention Programme helped 800 full-time equivalent nurses remain working within 145 NHS trusts.

The scheme involves a ‘transfer window’, in which staff can move to different areas within the NHS whilst developing new skills.

NHS England has now announced the programme will be extended to general practice, as part of the health service’s forthcoming workforce strategy, the NHS People Plan.

However, NHS England has not confirmed whether the scheme will include GPs or if it will only apply to other general practice staff.

Incentives, such as discount gym memberships and targeted mentoring for new staff, are offered as part of the initiative. 

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘As Europe’s largest employer with 350 different types of job opportunity, the NHS has always been an attractive career option for caring, skilled and determined staff.

‘Three quarters of our staff are women but only half say the NHS is flexible enough as an employer. So as well as a need for action on areas such as pensions, it’s right that local NHS employers are now themselves increasingly taking common sense action to support, develop and retain their staff.’

NHS England’s chief people officer Prerana Issar said: ‘With staff turnover at a five-year low, it’s clear that the NHS is competing well with other employers to retain the nurses, midwives and therapists that our patients depend on.

‘The National Retention Programme has had a promising start and we are now looking to roll out this scheme to other trusts and into general practice. Getting the right workforce is not just about the number of people we bring in but keeping and rewarding the team we have.’

NHS England has made efforts to address GP retention in the past, specifically with the GP retention scheme, which, as of December 2017, is supporting 254 GPs to stay in the profession.

CCG leaders have previously said a five-year GP-based training pilot could improve not just GP recruitment, but GP retention as well.

Last year, the BMA warned CCGs were failing to invest in the GP retention scheme because of financial pressures.