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Doctors, nurses and midwives’ one-year retention rate ‘above UK workforce average’


By Valeria Fiore
Reporter
17 June 2019

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The one-year retention rate of doctors, nurses and midwives employed in the public sector, both in primary and secondary care, is ‘above the UK workforce average’, a new analysis has found.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) examined one-year retention rate across the largest occupations in the public sector from 2016 to 2017, based on Annual Population Survey data.

It revealed that nurses and midwives had the highest one-year retention rate among the medical professions, at 92%. In terms of other public sector workers, they were only second to the police workers, while doctors followed in third place with a retention rate of 89%.

‘Noticeable fall’

However, one-year retention rates across most of the largest public sector professions were lower in 2016 to 2017 compared to in 2012 to 2013, the ONS said.

A ‘noticeable fall’ was identified among the public sector care workers, which fell from 79% to 67%. This might be ‘due to more care workers being contracted to the private sector’, the ONS said.

Healthcare Leader has contacted NHS England for comment.

Retention rates varied according to age, the ONS report said. Medical occupations showed higher retention rates for those aged 18 to 34 years, at 96% for nurses and midwives and 92% for doctors.

Meanwhile, social care workers aged between 35 and 49 years had the highest retention rate, at 93% in their profession.

Commenting on the findings, ONS senior analyst Anna Bodey said: ‘Most of the larger public sector occupations, including doctors, nurses and midwives and primary school teachers, have a one-year retention rate above the UK workforce average.

‘One-year retention rates in the public sector were lower in 2016 to 2017 than they were in 2012 to 2013, with the biggest fall in rate for social workers and public sector care workers.’

The interim NHS people plan, published earlier this month, pledges to act to improve NHS staff retention rates.

In 2019/20, the NHS will work towards improving the retention of nurses by expanding the Direct Support Programme – which was launched in June 2017 to help trusts improve their retention strategies – to all trusts, as well as extending it to general practice.

In response to the ONS public sector retention statistics, NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer said: ‘We are very aware of the demands placed on them both in terms of the intensity and volume of their work but have also worked hard in recent years to take action to improve retention.

‘We are seeing rates of retention improve across the NHS through a focus on caring for our new starters, promoting flexibility and predictability in our working patterns, and enhancing career development for teams.

‘The report highlights the significant challenges in this area and as we know, we need to continue with this work. The investment in NHS England announced by the prime minister last year is a crucial part of redressing the demands placed on our people. However, investment is also needed in growing our workforce as well as a long term – and massively overdue – plan for social care.’

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