North East London are shortlisted in the HSJ Awards workforce category


North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) has been shortlisted in the Workforce category at this year’s HSJ Awards for recruiting, retaining and rejuvenating health visiting at the Trust. We spoke to Sheila Toon, HR Manager at NELFT, to find out more about the health visiting project.

What made you apply for the workforce category?
The project team, led by Gillian Mills, Service Director Lead, gave a presentation about our work in recruiting health visitors to our Trust board. They were really impressed and suggested we apply to the HSJ Awards.

Did you expect to be shortlisted?
As our project is responding to the Government’s ‘Call to Action’ initiative, we knew it was a current topic so thought we had a good chance of being shortlisted. It was still a nice surprise to know we have been shortlisted for this category and also the Staff Engagement category.

Why was there a need for this project?
The Government’s ‘Call to Action’ initiative is the driver behind our project to recruit, retain and rejuvenate services, involving service users and engaging with staff at every stage.

The Government recognised that the start of life is a crucial time for children and parents and good, well-resourced health visiting services can help ensure that families have a positive start. The Government set a nationwide target for an extra 4,200 health visitors by 2015, and our Trust has been tasked with recruiting 120 health visitors by this date

What does the project involve?
We have a dedicated project group, with representatives from all groups involved with delivery of the service, including newly trained and experienced health visitors, management and staffside, to focus on introducing new ways to obtain the additional numbers of health visitors required. We hired an advertising agency, and they held a focus group with health visitors to come up with ways that would attract and retain health visitors to the trust. Our key theme was a door, which signifies opening up possibilities; through opening the door we are helping families and also our staff through offering them opportunities in their careers..

What are the benefits to the patients?
Health visitors are key to meeting the needs of families, so the patients will see an improvement in the services with the increase in health visitors in their area.

What are the benefits to the trust?
By dedicating resources to the recruitment process, which provides a personal and improved service, and holding recruitment days at convenient times for candidates the Trust is seeing numbers increasing. In addition, the Trust is looking to grow talent within the organisation so that the level of health visitors can be maintained.

As we are also on track to meet our target of recruiting health visitors, it has raised the profile of the Trust.

How close are you to meeting your recruitment target?
The programme has been running since December 2012 and we are well on the way to meeting our target.

The Trust is in demand to host student health visitors, and applications have been received from students at other universities affiliated to other Trusts. We take on up to 18 students twice a year and train them up, after their training we encourage them to stay with the Trust, which helps towards the recruitment target.

Do you have any future plans for the project?
We will be continuing with the programme until 2015 when we should meet our recruitment target. We are also undertaking a similar project to recruit integrated care professionals. Instead of having doors we are using houses, to represent keeping patients in the community, reflecting the national push towards integrated care in the community.

Congratulations on being shortlisted and good luck at the Awards Ceremony.

About the author

NHS Professionals administrator

NHS Professionals manages the temporary staffing needs of around 66 NHS Trusts across England. An integral part of the NHS, it aims to reduce Trusts’ spending on flexible workers without compromising quality, by providing greater transparency of demand and supplying bank staff at the best possible rate. Its bank of more than 40,000 flexible workers comprises general and specialist nurses, doctors, midwives, admin/clerical , allied health professionals, healthcare scientists, support services among other healthcare professionals.

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