Nursing Times Workforce Award recognises NHS recruitment efforts in north Cumbria

Innovative recruitment efforts from the NHS in North Cumbria have been shortlisted for a Nursing Times Workforce Award in the Best Recruitment Experience Category which recognises the value of working together across the health system.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH), Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) and North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) have been working together to recruit health professionals to the area for over a year. By joining forces they are able to give a consistent message about living and working in Cumbria, make better use of resources by saving time and money, and increase the number of health professionals coming to the area.

The award recognises an organisation’s strategic approach to the improvement of nurses’ and midwives’ experience of recruitment. Judges will consider the use of innovative advertising and marketing campaigns and events to recruit, or new nursing roles, such as nursing associates and nurse apprenticeships. They are looking for originality, results, collaboration and ideas that could be easily adopted by other organisations.

There is a national shortage of health professionals, especially nurses, which is amplified in Cumbria by the remote nature of some of our services. This shortage has resulted in some services relying on expensive agency workers and previously needed three separate recruitment strategies to address the gaps. Each organisation worked on their own to recruit health professionals – meaning three separate budgets for careers fairs and competing against each other for skilled workers.

The unique joint working sees the three organisations now hosting local careers events, attending jobs fairs, and recruiting overseas all as one team. A joint recruitment campaign, Is this you?, was launched to provide a consistent and recognisable identity and uses photos from local people that show what they love about living and working in Cumbria. A joint recruitment video was also relaunched and has received over 7,000 views.

Amanda Dunkley, project manager for attraction, commented:

“By working together we’re not just presenting the professionals we meet with a job opportunity in one hospital. We present them with a multitude of career pathways, services, settings and development opportunities across a variety of organisations and sectors which sets us apart from other Trusts and has been well received by job seekers.”

Innovative workforce models mean that skills can be used across the organisations. For example paramedics who have not met the advanced driving standards required in the UK are using their excellent clinical skills as part of the composite workforce across acute, mental health and community care.

Caroline Hastings, Operations Manager for NWAS, said:

“This partnership has been a real success and has helped us to recruit paramedics and nurses from across the country and internationally too whilst saving over £200,000 in agency finder fees. It’s also allowed us to further develop our relationship with NHS colleagues in Cumbria and work together to offer a wide range of career options.

“Being recognised by the Nursing Times is a huge honour and I’m really excited to be able represent NWAS through this excellent scheme.”

A ‘grow our own’ nursing apprentice and nurse associate programme has been developed to develop the future workforce and support staff progression. The recruitment teams also work with universities to promote opportunities in Cumbria, recognising that the point at which most professionals will relocate is at the start of their career.

Linda Bennetts, associate director for mental health, added:

“I’m delighted that the hard work across each of our organisations has been recognised at a national level. We’re doing some really exciting work in Cumbria to ensure our offer is attractive to new recruits as well as current staff. We’ve developed unique opportunities across the health system helping us to stand out as a great place to work.”

The awards will take place on 4 October in London. The NHS in North Cumbria is one of nine entries to be shortlisted in this category.