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West Herts Hospitals named ‘Best UK Employer’

Posted: 27 September 2019

Picture of West Herts team with award

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) has won the coveted Nursing Times ‘Best UK Employer of the Year’ award.

The judging panel chose WHHT for its sustained progress over recent years in improving working life for its staff. Judges gave praise for the wide range of measures implemented – all with the aim of making the trust a great place to work.

Among these measures are a successful nurse recruitment campaign; a raft of career development opportunities; reduced use of agency staff and numerous initiatives to raise levels of morale and engagement.

The trust, which covers Watford General, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans City hospitals, has been on a journey of improvement since coming out of ‘special measures’ in 2017.

Staff from recruitment, nursing and communications have worked hard to attract enough nurses to fill the long-standing junior nurse vacancies in its adult inpatient wards, with the vacancy falling from 28% in 2016 to 0% currently.

There has also been a renewed focus on staff development, including the introduction of hugely successful programmes to support newly registered nurses and midwives and those who are looking to progress their careers within the organisation.

Staff wellbeing has also been a priority. WHHT staff are offered free health checks, can opt into mindfulness sessions and can take part in keep fit classes on site or enjoy discounted gym memberships. Courses on stress management and mental health are also on offer.A recent NHS staff survey put West Herts in the top 20% of trusts for staff engagement and showed increased levels of motivation.

And, the trust’s internal award scheme (called ‘Stars of Herts’) has proved very popular and has been a great way to highlight the many unsung heroes across the trust. This vibrant approach to wellbeing, engagement and recognition, combined with creating a culture where staff feel empowered to be innovative, has created a real buzz.

Tracey Carter, the trust’s chief nurse said: “I am absolutely delighted that we’ve been recognised as the ‘Best UK Employer’ by the Nursing Times. It is such a fantastic achievement and reflects the dedication and commitment of all our team here at West Herts, over a number of years.

"Nursing is a wonderful profession but it can be really hard work. We want our nurses – and all our staff – to enjoy their jobs and build their careers with us and that’s why we’ve put in so much support for them.

"Evidence shows that the happiness of the workforce has an impact on patient care and so we’re thrilled that our efforts to be a great place to work are paying off. The results speak for themselves in our falling vacancy rates and in the positive feedback to the staff survey.”

Paul da Gama, the trust’s Chief People Officer, said: “Being named ‘Best UK Employer’ is just brilliant. I am incredibly proud of everyone who has played a part in our journey to make West Herts a truly great place to work and learn and it’s fantastic that this has been recognised by the Nursing Times. We look forward to building on this success over the coming years.”

Ends

Notes to editors

  1. For more information, please contact the communications team on: 01923 436280 or email: wherts-tr.communications@nhs.net. For out of hours media enquiries please call the Watford General Hospital switchboard on 01923 244366 and ask for the on call communications manager.
  2. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust serves people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three hospitals; Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead. The trust has a catchment area of over 500,000 people and is one of the largest employers locally, with around 5,000 staff and volunteers.
  3. For more information about our hospitals, visit www.westhertshospitals.nhs.uk. You can also join our followers on Twitter (twitter.com/westhertsNHS) and find us on Facebook (facebook.com/westhertsNHS).