Fourteen NHS hospitals in London have begun to use a centralised online staffing platform to fill urgent clinical vacancies on the COVID-19 frontline.
The rollout is a landmark in inter-trust co-operation as well as in public-private health sector collaboration.
The London COVID-19 Digital Staff Bank - an online pool of thousands of NHS workers - has been created by a group of NHS trusts and is managed by Patchwork Health and Reed Talent Solutions.
It has been designed to ensure London NHS trusts can access the healthcare workers they need in order to ensure wards are safely staffed.
It comes as some London hospitals are seeing up to 20% of their staff absent owing to sickness or self isolation, with others staying away to protect vulnerable family members.
With this in mind, the need to pool resources and enable enhanced workforce flexibility has never been greater.
London hospitals will now use the cloud-based London COVID-19 Digital Staff Bank to broadcast their urgent shift vacancies to a wider pool of trained clinicians.
Some of the UK’s largest trusts, including Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust and The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are all currently being onboarded, with more to be announced shortly.
Thanks to a secure credential-sharing system, NHS staff who sign up to the COVID-19 Digital Bank will be able to immediately work at any of the participating hospital trusts without the need for further verification. This will save thousands of hours of administrative time and thousands of pounds in related costs, rapidly speeding up redeployment of staff in line with shifting COVID-19 needs.
“Coming together to pool resources and share access to clinical expertise will help each trust react more effectively to current and upcoming challenges
Deputy director of people and organisational development at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Dawn Sullivan, said: “We are in the midst of an unprecedented challenge across the NHS.
“Coming together to pool resources and share access to clinical expertise will help each trust react more effectively to current and upcoming challenges.
“By working together, and using technology to make it happen, we can support our incredible healthcare workers in getting to where patients need them most."
Dr Anas Nader, chief executive of Patchwork Health, added: “We’ve been working tirelessly to get the London Digital Staff Bank up and running.
“We are currently seeing over 1,000 new COVID-19 vacancies go live each week on our platform, highlighting just how acute the need is across the NHS.
“We hope this Digital COVID-19 Bank will go some way towards relieving these pressures and ensuring we can rapidly redeploy staff to where they are needed most.