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1 - 2 October 2019

ExCeL London

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Uk Health Show

Four leading healthcare shows under one roof

25 - 26 September 2018
ExCeL London

Speaker interview: Professor Mark Radford

An interview with Professor Mark Radford

Mark Radford is Director of Nursing (Improvement) for NHS improvement with a portfolio that covers workforce, quality improvement and Governance.

Mark qualified as nurse in 1994 and has previously worked in Anaesthetics, Pre-operative assessment, perioperative care, critical care and A&E in the UK and Europe. He was previously a Chief Nurse of a University Teaching Hospital and prior to this a Consultant Nurse in Emergency & Trauma surgery. He is also a Professor of Nursing at Birmingham City University and also Coventry University, with research covering emergency care models, advanced practice, staffing, risk modelling, clinical decision-making, expertise and sociological issues in healthcare.


Mark was an executive member of the British Anaesthetic & Recovery Nurses Association (BARNA) since 1997, Chairing the Association from 1999 – 2001 and President 005-2009. Mark is also the founding editor of the British Journal of Anaesthetic and Recovery Nursing.


He has published widely on advanced practice nursing, safe staffing, and perioperative care including the recent Oxford Handbook of Surgical Nursing.


  1. In response to the concern and of course the reality of nursing staff shortages across the sector, NHS Improvement have developed a new programme to support nurse retention and retention. Without giving too much away, can you tell me a bit more about it?

The programme was originally commissioned by the then Secretary of State in 2017, in acknowledgement of the growing staff shortage. Data analysis of nurse staffing levels showed that there was an increase in nurse numbers with the focus on increasing recruitment rates however, there was still a shortage because of the rise in nurses leaving the profession, not just those retiring but also those in the early stages of their career. So we shifted the focus towards increasing the skillset by retaining levels of experienced staff across the board.

  1. As part of Lord Carter’s report in 2015, one area of spend highlighted as a key area for reduction was the amount spent on agency staffing. What impact has this workforce planning programme had on Trusts, both in terms of staffing but also in terms of costs?

The programme has now been introduced into 110 Trusts, some are further along in the programme than others with wave sites from one to three. There are new plans to support recruitment and we help each Trust to support them through their unique challenges. For example, Thameside and Glossop managed to decrease their staff nurse turnover by 4% in just six months and all wave one Trusts (which is about 40) have managed to decrease their staff turnover.

From a costing perspective, this ties in nicely with our existing agency staffing programme, aimed at reducing the amount of agency staffing.
Since we introduced that programme in October 2015, trusts in England have reduced their combined spend on agency staff by over £1 billion. The retention programme encourages Trusts to use staff effectively in a sustainable way, driving them to recruit and retain staff. It decreases the reliance on the use of agency staff to fill the gaps when staff leave. Decreasing reliance on agency staffing in turn improves patient outcomes and experiences by increasing continuity of care thus benefitting frontline care.

  1. Since its inception in 2017, this has been introduced across several Trusts, with most already reaping the benefits. What advice would you give to other Trusts to guide them in the same footsteps and increase nurse retention rates?

    We’re planning further work on retention with Trusts later this year, but we have learnt a lot so far. The top tips I would say are:

    1. It is key to create a good organisational culture. Trusts need to create an environment where staff feel listened to and valued.

    2. Engage staff and show them there is clear career pathway. The ability to demonstrate progression is key so career development programmes are essential. This investment in supporting new staff from the outset creates a positive perception that is invaluable to a trust over the longer term.

    3. It is important to provide staff with flexibility to accommodate their needs. For example, flexible working for those that have retired will allow staff to come back and work hours that suit them. This level of flexibility is great as it keeps the senior experience in the Trust for as long as possible.

Each Trust is different, and we work with them to individually to create a bespoke programme that fits them.

  1. You’ll be speaking at the UK Health Show to share your story. What is the one message you would like visitors to take away from your session?

There are numerous challenges facing the workforce. We are dealing with supply issues, Brexit and political change so this creates a tough environment. However, I want visitors to be able to take away the message that in spite of all this, a lot can be done internally to achieve workforce deliverables together.

  1. As the NHS has just celebrated its 70th birthday, what would you say needs to happen to ensure it continues to deliver the best possible care for another 70+ years?

    First of all, we need to realise the talent in the workforce and develop their careers. We need to make sure we have the right staff, in the right place, doing the right jobs. Secondly, we need to harness the role of technology and train staff to be able to use it in reparation and training for the digital health future. Finally, we need to make sure we keep up-to-date with the pace of change to enable us to stay ahead and improve patient outcomes.

  2. What are you most looking forward to about the UK Health Show 2018?

    I’m looking forward to meeting key stakeholders, sharing work and highlighting the available opportunities for developing the future workforce.

Professor Mark Radford will be speaking at the UK Health Show to deliver a keynote presentation on the Procurement Transformation Stage entitled: ‘Retention, performance and optimisation – creating a sustainable workforce for the future’.

Join us at the show on the 25-26 September to find out more.

This interview conducted by Natasha Smith, Senior Programme Manager, UK Health Show

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