More than 150 new clinical workers join the ranks of Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust

Chief executive hails success of overseas nurse recruitment drive

By Federica Bedendo
Thursday, 13th May 2021, 12:15 pm

More than 150 new clinical workers joined Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust this year, figures reveal.

NHS Digital figures show that 4,030 professionally qualified clinical staff were working at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in January – 184 more than in January 2020.

There are now a total of 1,944 nurses and health visitors working for the trust – 64 more than last year.

Bedford Hospital

There are also 1,058 doctors – 58 more.

The total number of clinical workers increased from 3,846 in January 2020, to 4,030 at the start of this year.

Other clinical workers include midwives, ambulance and technical staff.

The numbers refer to full time posts, rather than individual staff members.

Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust chief executive David Carter said: "These figures are really encouraging. The merger between our two hospitals just over a year ago is starting to reap rewards - we are recruiting more clinical staff to come and work for us, attracted by the increased range of training, support and career development opportunities on offer.

"Thanks to national funding, over the last year we have been able to focus our efforts on recruiting to a much-needed group of clinical staff - healthcare assistants/clinical support workers - and our overseas nurse recruitment drive in particular has been very successful, resulting in a number of staff joining our trust, despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic.

"We will continue to work to reduce our vacancy rates and attract the best people to come and work in our two hospitals."

Across England, the number of professionally qualified clinical staff make up more than half of the hospital and community health service workforce.

In January, the number of such workers increased by 4.2 per cent, including an extra 9,800 nurses and health visitors and 6,400 doctors.

However, separate figures show that there were 36,200 vacant nursing jobs and 7,000 vacant medical posts in the three months to December.

Dr Helena McKeown, chairman of the British Medical Association, said: "Despite there being some minor increases in staff numbers, this does not go anywhere near far enough to fill the known, as well as unknown, vacancy gaps that currently exist within the NHS. We are in the midst of a serious staffing crisis."

Dr McKeown added that a survey by the BMA revealed thousands of doctors are already planning to leave the NHS, as they are struggling to cope with demands.

The union wants the Government to implement measures to retain staff, as well as expanding the medical workforce.

And the Royal College for Nursing warned it was a false economy to recruit more nurses, without keeping the experienced staff to train them.

An NHS spokesman said the excellence of existing staff had inspired a 35 per cent increase in nursing degree applications as well as the increase in number of nurses, doctors and healthcare support workers.