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Retention rates for NHS clinicians above UK workforce average

But proportion of public sector workers staying longer than one year lower than in 2012-13, with largest fall for care workers, latest ONS analysis reveals

Caroline White

Monday, 17 June 2019

Most public sector jobs, including those of doctors, nurses, and midwives have a one-year retention rate that is above the UK workforce average, reveals the latest analysis for 2016-17 from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

But retention rates are lower than in 2012-13, with the largest fall occurring among care workers, the figures show.

Because the government invests in supporting the training for many of the largest public sector occupations, retaining those staff is important in terms of value for money, says the ONS.

The one-year retention rate of nurses, midwives, doctors, and healthcare assistants is above the UK workforce average in 2016-17, which was 83%; the equivalent public sector rate was 84%.

Ten of the 15 largest public sector occupations have a retention rate above the total public sector average. The police have the highest retention rate (94%), closely followed by nurses and midwives at 92%. The rate for doctors is 89%, while that for healthcare assistants is 86%. Care workers have below-average retention rates at 67%.

But retention rates fell for most of the larger public sector occupations between 2012-13 and 2016-17, with the largest fall occurring among care workers ─ from 79% to 67%. This might be due to more care workers being contracted to the private sector, suggests the ONS.

But retention rates also fell for NHS clinicians. The one-year retention rate for doctors, nurses and midwives in 2012-13 was 94%, and that of healthcare assistants 86%.

Workers aged 35 to 49 have the highest retention rates, the figures indicate, followed by 50 to 60-year olds. The patterns are similar across the private and public sectors, overall, but vary according to occupation.

Medical occupations have high retention rates for workers aged 18 to 34: 96% of nurses and midwives; 93% of healthcare assistants; and 92% of doctors.

Workers on temporary contracts in the public sector also tend to stay longer than their private sector peers: 68% compared with 58%. But once again, this varies greatly by occupation.

Doctors and nurses on temporary contracts have similar rates of retention as those on different contracts, at around 90%. But doctors on temporary contracts tend to have higher retention rates at one year than their permanent colleagues: 92% compared with 89%. The opposite is true of nurses and midwives.

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