In conversation with SW Healthcare: launching the Worcestershire Clinical Pools Service

In conversation with SW Healthcare: launching the Worcestershire Clinical Pools Service

To support the GP workforce to effectively meet patient demand, primary care systems have been granted access to up to £120k in NHSEI funding to establish flexible staff pools through the procurement of a digital workforce solution.

Using this scheme, SW Healthcare and NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire CCG, in partnership with Patchwork, have successfully launched the Worcestershire Clinical Pools Service across all of the county's 10 PCNs, which includes 60 GP practices.

We caught up with the team at SW Healthcare to learn more about their goals and how they are delivering a safe and efficient pooling service for GP practices across Worcestershire.

What were the staffing challenges you faced prior to establishing a flexible staff pool?

The biggest challenge we had when establishing a flexible staff pool was finding a suitable partner. We found that most systems were 'ready-made' and didn't fully align with our specific goals. To facilitate the safe deployment of GPs across multiple practices, we needed a tech solution that was tailored to our needs.

For example, a lot of digital flexible pool solutions were set up to manage payroll, meaning the supplier would pay clinicians through their systems, and then chase SW Healthcare for the invoice. This process did not work for our organisation and would have added to the workloads of managers, rather than relieving them.

Patchwork was highly recommended to us, and from the early stages of our relationship we were able to work together to create the Worcestershire Clinical Pools Service, which was tailored to our individual pain points and goals.

What were the main goals you wanted to achieve by establishing the Worcestershire Clinical Pools Service? How has technology enabled you to reach these goals?

By establishing a flexible staff pool, we wanted to enable GPs to work safely and flexibly across the region in line with their professional and personal commitments, with the aim of boosting wellbeing and retention. By doing so, this would have a positive impact on service delivery, as well as relieving the administrative burden on managers with digitised and automated processes.

The solution delivered by Patchwork has certainly enabled us to meet this objective. The system is slick, modern, and user-friendly, making the shift booking and management process simple and straightforward for doctors and managers alike. Not only this, but Patchwork also took steps to tailor their systems to our unique needs; every detail was taken into consideration, from changing the messaging on the app to revising the hard coding of the system to reflect our specific requirements.

How did you find the implementation process?

Throughout the implementation process, we worked very closely with the Patchwork team. Patchwork was always on hand for a call to provide reassurance and support whenever needed, alongside weekly steering meetings to ensure the service was running smoothly and aligned with our goals.

The ongoing training they provided was comprehensive and ensured our GPs were onboarded effectively and had a positive experience booking shifts via the app. Patchwork is also helping with compliance checks, which will be a huge help to us going forward, easing our administrative workload even further.

We also found the configuration document Patchwork provided was really useful. Prior to establishing the flexible staff pool, clinicians would sometimes be dispatched to a new and unfamiliar practice with little formal direction or support. However, with the provision of the configuration document, we were able to establish Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to facilitate flexible working arrangements across all practices that were streamlined and improved the experience of GPs working across 60 different sites.

What does the future look like for SW Healthcare and Patchwork?

The launch of the Worcestershire Clinical Pools Service has been well received and we’ve already had some great responses from GPs and practices. In the upcoming months, we’re focusing on recruiting and engaging more GPs, however, in the near future, we also plan to expand the pool to include nurse practitioners.

Ultimately, we’ve been really impressed by the technology solution, coupled with the incredible service and support we have received from the Patchwork team, which really sets them apart. We look forward to continuing to support more GPs to work flexibly and meet regional demand.

Get in touch via to speak to one of our experts about how your organisation can access the £120k funding for the realisation and management of flexible staff pools.

SW Healthcare
written by:

SW Healthcare