Easing the pressure on NHS staffing systems

Easing the pressure on NHS staffing systems

As featured in the Health Service Journal

Rapid recruitment and redeployment of clinicians is critical. We’re arming the NHS to cope, writes Dr Anas Nader

The coronavirus outbreak has transformed our world. As clinicians, individuals and communities step up, we must also recognise that businesses have a role to play too.

There are thousands of healthtech companies in the UK. Now is the time to allow our National Health Service access to the impact and innovation of these companies. In doing so, commercial interests must be set aside.

That’s the conclusion the Patchwork.Health team came to four weeks ago when we decided to create a COVID-19 staffing solution and make it freely available to all NHS Trusts to support their pandemic response.

This is a crisis and we must all do what we can to support the frontline.

Patchwork.Health’s award-winning software helps Trusts recruit temporary health workers via their staff bank to fill their staffing gaps. The NHS was experiencing chronic staff shortages prior to this crisis. This has been compounded by up to 25% of doctors now unable to work in certain regions due to self-isolation requirements.

This challenge is placing unprecedented logistical and administrative strain on already overburdened NHS staffing systems. We are in a position to ease that pressure.

Through our network and thanks to our partnership with BMJ, we have a pool of 75,000 clinicians that NHS hospitals can reach - helping roles get filled as quickly as possible and ensuring every ward is safely staffed. This coordination is handled by hospitals directly through a web portal (which can be accessed remotely), with clinicians instantly booking onto shifts directly through an app.

Our system can be up and running at Trusts within 5 days, with staff teams trained in less than an hour. Our software also automates administration tasks, relieving staff of admin pressures.

Alongside this, we’re launching bespoke Regional COVID-19 Digital Staff Banks so frontline teams can instantly broadcast COVID-19 related vacancies and connect with clinicians with the right skill-sets across the region. This will allow for the rapid redeployment of staff to where they are needed most, in a streamlined, compliant way.

We have also enlisted the support of fellow start-up Wagestream to further ease the burden on NHS systems. Wagestream will enable clinicians booking shifts through our app to access their wages as soon as they need them. We are also enabling the instant passporting of credentials, helping Trusts around the UK validate clinicians and onboard them in as little as two minutes. Saving time and speeding up re-deployment of clinicians will prove critical in the weeks ahead.

Our data team has built a bespoke, real time dashboard which tracks and forecasts the increase in workforce demand and the vacancies left unfilled because of coronavirus. This insight will be essential in managing resourcing, discovering where pain points lie and planning effectively. We’re also committing a team of our own advisors to help managers at a local, regional and national level to interpret this data and adjust their strategies accordingly.

We’re proud of our decision to make our technology free during the peak of the pandemic. Patchwork.Health was born in and inspired by the NHS. The future may be challenging but every challenge becomes smaller when you tackle it together.

Dr Anas Nader
written by:

Dr Anas Nader