Overseas nurses in frame for jobs at Shropshire's hospitals
One hundred international candidates are being interviewed for nursing jobs at Shropshire's two main hospitals.
It is hoped they will help plug the gaps at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), where bosses have revealed there are about 300 nursing vacancies.
Health commissioners were told the news during meetings this week, but also heard that workforce issues remain a 'key concern' for the trust which runs Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford.
Christine Morris, chief nurse at Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups, said in the last year 170 nurses have been recruited at SaTH, but 190 have left.
Speaking to Shropshire CCG's governing board at a recent meeting, she said: "Clearly there is a lot of work to be done around recruitment and retention, particularly of retention of the nursing workforce in the organisation."
An ageing workforce, nurses unhappy with working 12 hour shifts and a chance to progress their careers have all been blamed as reasons why turnover has been so high.
Mrs Morris said SaTH carries out 'exit interviews' with staff to find out why they are leaving.
She said: "We have an ageing workforce, so there are nurses coming up to retirement, taking early retirement.
"We have nurses who are really struggling with the shift work, they work 12 hour days in the organisation.
"And so they choose to go onto the bank, so they are not losing all of those nurses, a lot of them are choosing to work more flexibly on the bank and work the hours they want to work.
"There are nurses that are unhappy at being moved around constantly from shift to shift to cover other ward areas.
"There are nurses who want to progress their careers and are moving on because they have sought employment in other organisations and got promotions. There are multiple reasons why the gaps are there."
A report to Shropshire CCG's board, which met on Wednesday, said the level of nursing vacancies remain a 'significant concern'.
However, it pointed out that recent nursing recruitment drives in India have been successful.
The report says 50 nurses have accepted posts, but it is likely to be March before the required training has been completed.
The trust is also working with local universities to boost recruitment efforts.
Barbara Beal, SaTH's interim director of nursing, told Telford & Wrekin CCG's governing board this week about the actions being taken to try to recruit and retain staff.
Mrs Beal said the trust was looking at how to reduce spend on agency workers, how to best use its bank workers and is making sure its rates of pay are reasonable.
She told board members there are about 300 nurse vacancies at SaTH, but that it is now interviewing 100 nursing candidates.