Around 20 nurses are quitting their jobs every MONTH in Derby and Burton – resulting in hundreds of vacancies.
In January, it was reported that there were 288 nurse vacancies at the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust.
However, that is set to rise to 338 by the end of March and, before Christmas, nurse vacancies had been as high as 450.
An average of 21 nurses are leaving the trust each month – a turnover rate of nearly 10 per cent.
Trust officials say that long-term sickness is having an impact on filling shifts, with “bank staff” having to be called on increasingly to plug gaps in rotas and to make sure wards are not dangerously understaffed.
Bosses admit they need to get better at helping staff to remain in work.
Nurses, and more senior staff, have also been called in from within the trust to cover for colleagues at other sites.
Staff vacancy and recruitment is currently an “amber” risk for the trust.
However, there is still a net gain of starters over leavers of 59 full time staff across the entire hospital trust.
There are more than 12,000 staff in the trust.
A report discussed by the trust board this week says: “In view of the merger (between Derby and Burton hospital trusts) the turnover rates would have been predicted to rise but encouragingly this has not occurred. The main area of risk will be one of skill mix and the additional support required for this junior workforce whilst managing the demands of winter activity. A number of wards across medicine are requiring support with leadership roles, mainly due to long term sickness or vacancy which has been recruited to. The nursing establishments have been made up of staff from across the organisation which has been supported by interim senior sisters.”
It also says that mass vacancy “leaves many wards with a higher vacancy rate and a corresponding reliance on bank staff being block booked (one ward being largely made up of support/supply staff)”.
Queen’s Hospital in Burton had been due to receive another “cohort” of newly qualified nurses from the University of Wolverhampton – but this had not been possible due to “minimal applicants”.
Meanwhile, there are 54 overseas nurses within the trust to help plug vacancies, with 56 more “identified or currently in training”.
There are a further 60 newly qualified nurses starting jobs at the trust between January and March.
In December there were four wards – two in Derby and two in Burton – that had less than 80 per cent fill rate for registered nurses or midwives.
The trust says this was “offset” by an increase in the use of bank staff “to ensure patient safety was maintained throughout”.
Cathy Winfield, executive chief nurse at the Derby and Burton hospitals trust, said in this month’s trust board meeting that the organisation had been “working really hard” at staff retention – which had seen overall nursing vacancies reduce from the pre-Christmas high of 450.
However, she said the impact was being felt in the lack of leadership level nurses, saying: “Where we seem to be having difficulty is where there are wards with people who have not been properly prepared for leadership roles. There is more work to be done on how we support that leadership group – and we have had some really good results so far. There are also many senior sisters, at the latter end of their careers, who have given 30-40 years to the NHS and need to know that they still have a role to play – even if it means stepping off the wards into governor roles. We need to get better at how we enable people to stay in work.”
She also said that vacancies had been filled through vital support from Filipino staff.
Dr Neil Pease, the trust’s executive director of workforce, said that the trust had an “itchy feet clinic” for find people, who may looking to leave, new roles within the organisation – in hopes that this will encourage them to stay.
He also said that their retention levels, if the trust carries on, will “be the envy of other trusts”.
Before the merger of the Derby and Burton hospital trusts, Dr Pease said that staff turnover equated to roughly 450 or 500 people a year who were leaving the organisations through retirement or jobs elsewhere.