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Hospital's perks to coax nurses away to new jobs.

NURSES are being offered an astonishing array of perks by desperate health chiefs.

The aim is to lure them to crisis-hit NHS hospitals suffering from acute staff shortages.

The incentives include cheap cinema tickets, shopping discounts, creches... and even massages to ease away the stress of the job.

One children's hospital in New Zealand is even offering 11 weeks paid holiday to poach British nurses.

But last night, nurses' leaders said the perks would do little to combat rock-bottom morale caused by low pay and overwork.

Hospitals across the Midlands are short of an estimated 2,500 nurses.

The Gloucestershire Royal NHS Trust is among those which have been packing the jobs pages of Nursing Times magazine with slick recruitment ads.

The incentives include a day nursery, staff lottery, on-site beauty therapist, temporary accommodation, discounts from local and national organisations, subsidised canteen facilities, holiday play schemes and massage service.

Senior hospital manager John Richardson said the Trust currently needs about 20 extra nurses to add to the existing 1,010.

He said: "We are very proud of our facilities and we hope they will attract more nurses to our hospital."

Meanwhile, the Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust is offering creche facilities and discounted staff rates for a nearby leisure centre as recruitment incentives.

The town's New Cross Hospital is currently 100 nurses short.

Sheila Bott, deputy head of nursing, said: "We are looking at anything which will get nurses to come here."

But the new incentives will fail to address the increasing shortages in nursing staff according to the Royal College of Nursing, which represents 27,000 nurses in the Midlands.

Regional officer Ann Milstead said: "The region is suffering because there are a lot of health trusts dipping into a limited supply of nurses, and attracting new recruits is proving very hard.

"There are shortages at all grades, particularly in specialist areas like coronary and intensive care.

"These incentives are very nice for the staff, but they smack of short termism and won't address the fundamental problems of poor pay and conditions.

"Until these are addressed, there will continue to be a nursing shortage, no matter what extras are offered."
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 31, 1999
Previous Article:Crisis in Midlands NHS.
Next Article:Stresses force foreign nurses to quit Britain.

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