Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust has been shortlisted in the workforce category of this year’s HSJ Awards, for the development of a qualified nurse preceptorship programme, ‘Starting Out’, facilitated through the nurse bank flexible workforce team. We spoke to Simon Barnitt, Professional Nurse Advisor at the Trust, to find out more about the programme.
Why did your Trust decide to enter the workforce category?
We wanted to publicise our innovative way to go about preceptorship programmes. The programme has certainly supported our workforce and we wanted to tell other people about it to share good practice.
What is the ‘Starting Out’ programme?
The programme allows newly qualified nurses to be recruited to the Nurse Bank (flexible workforce team) and finds a placement for them where they can be given guidance and support during the transition from being a student to being an accountable practitioner. The placements cover difficult to fill gaps in teams such as maternity leave and secondments which would traditionally have been filled by adhoc flexible staff.
Each placement is supported by the area manager, an identified preceptor (experienced practitioner) and the Nursebank Professional Nurse Advisor, with the requirement that a preceptorship package is completed during the placement. During and after the placement the programme participants are supported to gain substantive employment with the Trust or continue bank work which offers a mechanism to prevent attrition and retain developed staff nurses.
Why did your Trust implement this programme?
Within the Nursebank we became aware that a large number of newly qualified nurses were applying for Healthcare Assistant (HCAs) posts due to the lack of availability of permanent or fixed term posts. We were also aware that the Trust had many vacancies that were difficult to fill (due to sickness, secondments, maternity leave) and as these vacancies were either frozen due to organisational changes or could not be filled via a permanent or fixed term contract.
It was identified that there needed to be another way of supporting the clinical areas with these vacancies via utilizing the newly qualified staff nurses we knew were available. and therefore we supported the newly qualified nurses to undertake a preceptorship programme within the Trust.
How difficult is it for a nurse to find an opportunity to complete their preceptorship?
The newly qualified nurses applying for this programme have been unable to gain substantive employment within the Trust therefore would not have the opportunity to undertake a placement without the programme.
Following recruitment preceptorship opportunities are found for the newly qualified nurses via liaison with the service and ward managers. The preceptee’s are offered opportunities based on the preference of speciality and geographical location. The preceptee will meet the manager of the area and the placement must be agreed between both parties. We have been able to find placements for all the preceptees that have been recruited to the programme.
What are the benefits of the ‘Starting Out’ programme for the nurses?
The programme ensures that the newly qualified nurses have a job as soon as they qualify. I prefer to see newly qualified staff starting their career within the NHS and the vast majority of the applicants have been trained at the university we are affiliated to and have had placements within the Trust.
We also support the preceptees in their development by ensuring they have a robust preceptorship period including development sessions and a standardised preceptorship pack, which is supported by me, a preceptor and manager in the placement area. The additional development, including support by peers, isn’t offered to other preceptees within the Trust – just those on the ‘Starting Out’ programme.
How does the Starting Out programme benefit the Trust?
The Trust benefits from the programme as they are able to recruit new staff into hard to fill areas and hard to fill vacancies, which means we are supporting the back-fill of vacancies. The programme also allows for flexibility within the workforce as the preceptees can move between placement areas should the placement no longer be available.
The cost savings of this programme are immediate, as the preceptee’s are paid at bottom point Band 5 in line with their experience, whereas the regular bank nurses, who would be required to cover these vacancies, are paid at midpoint Band 5. This is a saving of £1.86 per basic hour, approximately £3,627 per year per preceptee.
And what are the outcomes for patients?
Rather than having adhoc flexible staff going in for one shift and not going again for a couple of weeks, we’ve got one member of staff working on the same ward, which improves consistency and quality of care. It also improves the relationship with the patient as the nurse will see the patient regularly.
What are your future plans for the programme?
We are planning to develop the preceptorship programme to become generic in the Trust and not just a bank programme. We hope the preceptorship work that we do will also be utilised within the Trust for any newly registered professional or other person who has come to the Trust e.g. HCAs.
Congratulations on being shortlisted and good luck at the Award Ceremony.