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Should I stay or should I go? NHS staff retention in the post COVID-19 world: Challenges and prospects

Weyman, Andrew; Glendinning, Richard; O'Hara, Rachel; Coster, Joanne; Roy, Deborah; Nolan, Peter

Finding ways to maintain and enhance rates of staff retention is a key challenge for the NHS. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the focus on this issue. It is important to determine the impact of the COVID-19 experience, its secondary impacts and its legacy on the resilience of NHS staff with respect to their capacity and motivation to remain. 

The foundation research on which this report is based, Should I stay or should I go? NHS staff retention in the post COVID-19 world: Challenges and prospects, was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, arising from the UKRI open-call for COVID-19 relevant social research in spring 2020.

The research aims were to provide human resource strategy and policy relevant insight into:

  • The impact of the COVID-19 experiences and its legacy on employees’ strength of attachment, commitment and capacity to remain in NHS employment;
  • The relative salience and strength of push and pull variables on staff stay versus leave intentions and behaviour;
  • What might need to change to motivate/enable current employees to remain in NHS employment; and 
  • The need, nature and scope for intervention to maintain/enhance retention rates.

This report provides an overview of headline findings from the NHS employee survey component of our research. To date, it has been conducted over three Waves between December 2020 and April 2022. The account is supplemented by qualitative insights from interviews with NHS staff.

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