Lincolnshire’s hospitals are working with specialists to make the most of the county’s rural nature in recruiting NHS staff for the future.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has partnered with the Lincolnshire Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) to work towards creating a National Centre for Rural Health and Care.
This innovation is aimed at tackling NHS staffing shortages, and finding new and exciting ways of recruiting staff in healthcare by making “rural” a key selling point to attract new NHS staff to work in our hospitals.
Rural areas can suffer from acute staffing shortages, as demand rises due to an ageing population and because of the greater distances residents have to travel to access health care. ULHT currently has 318 full time nursing vacancies, 38 consultant vacancies and 92 vacancies for other grades of doctor.
Together, ULHT and LEAP have commissioned research led by Rose Regeneration, which will culminate in an international symposium in Lincolnshire in February 2017.
Jan Sobieraj, Chief Executive of ULHT, said: “Lincolnshire has the potential to build on its rural assets. While there are similar national and international initiatives to tackle workforce issues, particularly in rural areas, there are no well-known centres that bring together a range of disciplines and business opportunities around the provision of rural based health and care.
“We are working closely with health and care providers, local authorities, the Lincoln Institute for Health and businesses to understand what the centre could look at and achieve.”
The centre will bring together international good practice in tackling workforce issues – from harnessing technology to learning and professional development and collaborating with other health providers. The vision is that it will act as a national and international hub for health professionals.
David Rossington from LEAP said: “We are committed to supporting good ideas which improve the quality of life of people in Lincolnshire.
“We recognise the health workforce challenges this centre is seeking to tackle and how rural can be turned into a strength in the recruitment and retention of staff. This is a big and exciting initiative – Lincolnshire is not only one of the biggest rural areas in England, it also has one of the largest and most dispersed rural populations. We are looking forward to working with ULHT and Rose Regeneration to develop the concept.”