27th October, 2020

The NHS is facing additional pressures this winter. In addition to the yearly challenges of influenza, pneumonia and elderly morbidity increases, the NHS workforce is facing increasing COVID-19 cases and staff exhaustion following the first wave. The most recent NHS data shows 93% of Trusts leaders report concern about staff burnout.

The NHS People Plan identifies that flexible arrangements within healthcare need to be made, stating that trusts and primary care networks should prioritise the use of bank staff before more expensive agency options. DigitalHealth.London Accelerator alumnus, Locum’s Nest, has released a report detailing how using open bank staff systems like theirs can help support the NHS during this time.

The report explained that an open bank staff system maximises the UK’s existing staffing pool by broadcasting vacancies to the wider medical community, casting a wide net. Thus, increasing flexibility and allowing the NHS to better cope with pandemic waves, whether it’s the second, third or fourth wave. Compared with closed, ring fenced staff banks, where vacant shifts are circulated to only a small group of substantive staff. 

The Locum’s Nest Digital Collaborative Bank is the largest digital bank of five thousand doctors in the UK. It allows for an ever-increasing pool of local, highly qualified staff to be constantly at the organisation’s disposal.

There are currently eight Trusts across the UK forming The Digital Collaborative Bank. During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic they were able to combat spikes in staffing demand, ensuring a 91% fill rate across all eight Trusts. This is 5-10% higher than the average Trust that’s working independently, with a siloed pool of staff.

Suzanne Rankin, Chief Executive, Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS FT (ASPH), said; “Locum’s Nest has transformed the way we are able to fill our locum medical shifts and enable doctors to work bank shifts across the collaborative without working via an agency.  I am driven and passionate about my role as an NHS leader as well as specifically the leader of ASPH and I’m not concerned that the use of Locum’s Nest will enable my colleagues to work in other NHS Trusts, rather it gives me a sense of pride and unity with the rest of NHS”

“There is a big opportunity here for us all at The Digital Collaborative Bank. It is a transparent way of working and absolutely the way forward. It improves harmonization of rates, transparency and better controls across the group. If you’re not using it, you should.”

Nicholas Andreou, co-founder Locum’s Nest says, “We spent a lot of time studying the different available staff bank models and there’s clear evidence that the open bank approach is not only the most ethical but also the most practical and effective design. From every possible angle you look at it, it is better for patient care as well as the public purse”

“We, like DigitalHealth.London Accelerator, believe that striving for innovation in all areas of our NHS will lead to better patient care and a happier workforce.”

The report published by Locum’s Nest detailed the benefits of the open model: 

  • Patient care: safer staffing levels of skilled workers saves lives 
  • Staff moral:
    • Healthcare staff: as more and more staff move towards flexible working hours they have the knowledge that there is a pool of staff to support with shifts if needed 
    • Administrative staff: a modern, simple and streamlined platform which allows greater visibility of shifts resulting in a above average fill rate
  • Financial savings: In 2018 it was announced that the NHS could free up £480m by limiting use of temporary staffing agencies. Pooling staff with local Trusts allows staff to finally forget agencies and maximise these savings in 2020/21
  • Governance: Staff remain closely governed by the NHS governance rules with systems designed to augment recruitment, compliance and governance through streamlined cloud-based task management and smart notifications 

For more information and the full report please visit Locum’s Nest