Rapid Evidence Review: NHS workforce retention

Retention is a current and complex workforce issue facing the NHS, with Health Education England (HEE) CEO, Ian Cumming, citing retention as the biggest single challenge in tackling NHS workforce shortages.[1]   But whilst the narrative about retention is clear and punctuated with headline-grabbing figures about retention levels, the impact of variations in retention, particularly on NHS performance and patient outcomes is less well understood.

A recent call for applications (now closed) from the Health Foundation focused on new research which would advance understanding of workforce retention in health and social care.  As part of this, Research Matters was commissioned by the Health Foundation to conduct a Rapid Evidence Review to understand the existing literature exploring retention in the health and social care workforces.  The aim of the work was to provide a broad overview of the current evidence base and identify areas where evidence is sparse or lacking.

Using a time-limited and pragmatic approach, we were able to deliver a high-level profile of the current evidence base on retention (2008 onwards), including the different approaches and study methodologies and where studies are focused in terms of sectors, staff groups and geography.  We summarised the main findings about retention and highlighted gaps and areas for further research.   Finally, we outlined high-level conclusions to frame ongoing research about retention in the health and social care workforce.

You can download the rapid evidence review here:  Understanding the current evidence base on workforce retention in Health and Social Care, A rapid evidence review for The Health Foundation, Laura Barrett, Elaine Robinson, Research Matters, September 2018

The report was for internal use by the Health Foundation and is published by Research Matters with the permission of the Health Foundation.

[1] Speech to NHS Confederation conference, June 2017

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