This project is under way, and will run until July 2022.

  • Run by Birmingham City University, in collaboration with NHS Improvement.
  • Research project that will explore the underlying drivers of nurse retention in the NHS.
  • Aiming to use ‘big data’ techniques to analyse multiple variables and their effect on nurse retention, and the subsequent effect on patient outcomes.
  • Will link routinely collected administrative datasets from 20 mental health and secondary care providers across England.

The rate at which nurses leave the NHS is increasing and resulted in 36,000 nurse vacancies in 2017. These were unequally distributed across professions, specialties and geographical regions, introducing inevitable inequalities in patient care.

This project aims to use this variation to detect underlying contributory factors for better or worse nurse retention, and determine its effect on patient outcomes in both secondary care and mental health care.

The research team from Birmingham City University and NHS Improvement will use their experience of applying ‘big data’ analytics and unifying large datasets from three previous studies on the effect of nurse staffing on patient safety.

For this project, they will combine and align multiple, large, trust-wide, routinely collected administrative datasets from 10 secondary care and 10 mental health organisations. This will allow them to analyse multiple variables and their effect on nurse retention, and the subsequent effect on patient outcomes.

They will also design and test an infrastructure for the routine extraction, combination and analysis of these large datasets in order to allow these techniques to be adopted across the NHS. This will be supported through direct involvement with NHS Improvement’s National Retention Programme, which helps NHS providers to implement improvement measures to drive clinical retention based on guidance and good practice.

This project is in a unique position to unlock the key underlying drivers of nurse retention and determine its impact on care quality, helping to tackle the challenge of supply in the NHS and ensure that high quality, sustainable care is available to all.

Contact details

For further information about this project, please contact Sarahjane Jones, Senior Research Fellow, Birmingham City University.

About this programme


Efficiency Research Programme

This programme awarded £1.8 million to three research teams for projects looking into issues of efficiency and sustainability...

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