Locally targeted initiatives to recruit and retain nurses in England

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The aim of this study is to provide a detailed account of the locally targeted strategies to improve staffing levels by senior nurses responsible for recruitment and retention in acute trusts in the National Health Service in England.


There is a shortfall in nursing numbers throughout England. Some trusts have employed senior nurses with a specific remit to improve recruitment and retention, but little has been published about their work or its success.


Data were collected by telephone using semi-structured interviews with standard probes. The tape-recorded interview data were transcribed verbatim and analysed by content.


Of the 156 acute trusts in England, 36 employed a senior nurse to deal with recruitment and retention. Twenty-nine were interviewed. All were using a range of locally targeted initiatives to attract and retain health-care assistants, newly qualified and more experienced practitioners. They also worked closely with university staff to attract and retain student nurses who would later seek employment locally. Different approaches were used to secure the services of different types of staff.


This exploratory study has revealed a wealth of valuable data concerning locally targeted recruitment and retention strategies. Further research is needed to examine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the initiatives described.

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