Bucks’ NHS is investing a “huge amount” of time and money into training and supporting nurses to ensure they continue working in the county in the face of major staff shortages.

Last year Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust (BHT) pledged to tackle the growing staffing crisis across its seven hospitals as hundreds of nurse positions remained empty.

This week director of strategy at BHT, David Williams, says the county is “very good” at training nurses, however they tend to leave following their studies and return when they reach their 30s.

Speaking at a meeting of Bucks County Council’s (BCC) health and adult social care select committee this morning (March 19), Mr Williams said: “We know if we have happy and healthy staff they will stay with us.

“We also know if we can support our development, they will also reach their potential with us they will stay with us.

“We are investing huge amounts in learning and development, right through from HCAs to nurse training to grow our own staff.

“That’s the silver bullet – if we provide the support our nurses need then they will stay with us, but there is work to do.”

The trust is now looking into creating its own teaching centre at one of the county’s hospitals to create "home grown" staff in a bid to plug the recruitment gap.

He added: “We have a number of education organisations we are connected with, and one of the things we are thinking about is developing a Bucks faculty,  so a place for learning and development that we create with our organisation, with our partners.

“What we are thinking about is developing our own teaching and training facility within the hospital.

“Growing our own and training our own is something we are seriously considering, rather than having a mix of educational facilities across the patch. It is going to be important for us.”

The HASC committee met today to discuss the NHS Long Term Plan and how it will be delivered in Bucks.

The 10-year plan, unveiled in January, announced increased funding for mental health, primary and community care across the country as well as plans to improve care for cancer, cardiovascular and maternity patients.

Improving ophthalmology [eye] and musculoskeletal care is going to be a key focus in Bucks as the plan is implemented, according to Mr Williams.

He said: “We have a growing number of patients who need to access ophthalmology services with an ageing population, and we are really focusing with our GPs and our optometrists about getting a really smooth pathway for patients into our ophthalmology services.”