North West trusts to pioneer new approach to staffing

New digital temporary staff bank will enable 35 trusts to reduce reliance on agency staff

A pioneering initiative to transform NHS temporary staffing is set to be introduced across the North West.

The initiative, led by St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, will see the creation of a North West Doctors in Training Collaborative Staff Bank.

The new bank will enable up to 35 trusts in the region to reduce reliance on agency staff and instead broadcast shifts to the 5,500 clinical trainees already working within the North West’s network of hospitals.

Digitising temporary staffing brings huge benefits for clinicians and trusts alike

These clinicians will be able to e-passport their credentials between participating trusts, enabling staff to be rapidly redeployed in line with need.

The new Collaborative Staff Bank will act as a secondary bank for participating hospitals, allowing them to broadcast shifts they’ve been unable to fill through their own primary hospital bank.

This additional ‘staffing safety net’ will help reduce spend on external locum agencies and minimise the administrative burden for NHS teams and clinicians.

Additional benefits to the network include ensuring junior doctors booking shifts outside their host trust can have their credentials, pay, annual leave entitlements, and hours worked handled through a centralised system.

This will ensure each clinician is working safely and in adherence to all regulations.

The use of digital or ‘e-passporting’ will also enable shifts to be filled much more quickly.

The creation of collaborative banks has previously been encouraged by the NHS as part of its push for the e-enablement of staff movements.

The project was initiated following stakeholder engagement with North West trusts and the British Medical Association and Patchwork Health has been awarded the contract.

The Doctors in Training Collaborative Staff Bank will be fully digitised, with shifts broadcast and booked via the Patchwork Health app - a platform designed by NHS clinicians.

The impact of implementing this new digital, collaborative system will not only support our host trust colleagues in achieving greater fill rates, but will also work to reduce the regional reliance on agencies

During the COVID-19 crisis, technology from Patchwork was also used to create a London COVID staff bank to enable the rapid redeployment of clinicians across the capital as it battled the pressures of the virus.

The North West initiative went live earlier this month and will grow over the coming months.

Those involved predict that 27,000 shifts will be booked through the system during the first six months.

And with 18 trusts already engaged in a phased implementation throughout the winter, six will go live in wave one during the autumn.

Claire Scrafton, deputy director of HR at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are really excited to see this vision become a reality.

“Working with Patchwork and our colleagues across the North West region, the benefits and opportunities of the initiative are really starting to come to fruition.

“The impact of implementing this new digital, collaborative system will not only support our host trust colleagues in achieving greater fill rates, but will also work to reduce the regional reliance on agencies, enabling us to support our collective pool of skilled clinical trainees as they embrace the digitisation of bank shift management.”

This new system will strengthen the region’s ability to respond rapidly and effectively to any future crises

Dr Anas Nader, chief executive at Patchwork Health, added: “We’re looking forward to supporting the rollout of this bank across the North West and helping trusts to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and offer clinicians more flexibility over their shift patterns.

“Digitising temporary staffing brings huge benefits for clinicians and trusts alike.

“During the COVID-19 crisis we also saw the impact e-passporting and regional banks can have when staffing pressures are at their highest.

“This new system will strengthen the region’s ability to respond rapidly and effectively to any future crises.”

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