Health chiefs are trying to recruit 150 extra nurses in Brighton and Hove and the surrounding area to tackle a £6 million crisis.
The recruitment campaign was announced today (Monday 27 March) by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which looks after mental health patients in Brighton and Hove, including those at Mill View Hospital.
The trust’s recruitment campaign is planned to run nationwide after the bill for temporary nurses topped £6 million for the current year.
The trust said: “The trust expects to spend £6.4 million on nurses supplied by agencies to cover staff sickness or absences by the end of this month.
“Of that, a massive £2.3 million is just the fee to the agency, not the cost of the staff.
“Sussex Partnership is not alone. Nationally it is estimated that the NHS as a whole spends more than £250 million a month on agency staffing.
“In an effort to drive down costs and drive up care, the trust is concentrating on attracting nurses from across the country to help deliver excellent healthcare for people with mental health problems and learning disabilities.
“To meet the rising demand for mental health care, the trust needs to recruit 150 new nurses to hospital teams across the trust.
“Sussex Partnership runs mental health and learning disabilities services for all ages in Sussex as well as services for children and young people in Hampshire and Kent.
“There are vacancies for qualified, newly qualified and experienced nurses. To both attract and keep the right staff, the trust has made some changes to the offer for nurses.
“These changes include extra money for nurses joining ‘hard to recruit’ areas, help with moving into the area, with the first three month’s rent paid, a place on a preceptorship scheme and a personal development package including coaching, mentoring and executive shadowing opportunities, as well as fast-track promotion opportunities.”
Diane Hull, executive director of nursing and patient experience, said: “There are some excellent agency staff out there but we know care is better when it is done by staff who know the patients, know the staff and understand the organisation.
“This isn’t about money, it’s about being sure we are giving patients across Sussex, Hampshire and Kent the very best care.
“We can’t do that if we are wasting money by spending millions of pounds on agency fees alone.
“That money would be better spent on delivering high-quality patient care and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Full details are available at www.sussexpartnership.nhs.uk/nurses.