East London NHS Foundation Trust – Improving staff recruitment and retention


East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) has used different approaches to improve staff recruitment and retention, reducing nursing vacancies to less than 5%. ELFT recruits 90% of City University graduates, by engaging with students six months prior to graduation. The best students they’ve supported City University to train are offered places.

They have taken a number of strategic approaches to building and developing the workforce. These include:

  • building partnerships with local universities to enhance training and recruitment;
  • developing innovative recruitment processes;
  • recruiting to address local needs;
  • offering apprenticeships at a number of levels to develop staff; and,
  • encouraging ongoing professional training and development.

Using selection days has improved the quality of nurses recruited. The ability of staff to engage, understand the impact of their words and behaviour on others, and their self-awareness and resilience are assessed. The Trust is also one of the most ethnically diverse NHS workforces with over 55% coming from a black and minority ethnicity (BME) background.

Future nursing leaders are being developed on a local level, through ELFT’s Band 6 Nursing Apprentice Programme. As a result, recruiting Band 6 nurses is no longer a problem and external Band 5 nurses are attracted to the Trust. Over 300 Band 6, 7 and 8 inpatient nursing staff participate in clinical leadership development programmes. This covers clinical leadership and management, the art of engagement and recovery, understanding others, resilience and the service user’s experience.

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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