North West London hospitals embrace tech to pioneer new approach to staffing

As COVID-19 pressures mount once again, four London NHS Trusts have come together to launch the North
West London Collaborative Staff Bank. This powerful new initiative will create a shared pool of available clinicians
who can fill shift vacancies across all four Trusts; rapidly speeding up the staffing of shifts and enabling clinicians to be redeployed in line with demand.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust,
London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust have come together to launch the bank, which is underpinned by staffing technology designed by Patchwork
Health, in time to tackle the predicted surge in demand from COVID-19 and wider winter pressures.

North West London experienced some of the highest levels of coronavirus in the country during the pandemic’s
first wave. This initiative will unlock a more dynamic, tech-powered staffing model and help wards cope with growing numbers of patients in the coming months.

How it works

The North West London Collaborative Staff Bank is a platform through which vacant hospital shifts will be broadcast to a shared pool of 6,000 qualified staff. Key features of the collaborative bank include:

A bank-member employed by any one of the Trusts can self-book onto vacant shifts at any partner hospital Staff who are members of the bank can port their pre-employment verifications when they move between Trusts, reducing both administrative burden and time lags when they book onto shifts.

The new bank is agnostic of rostering systems and agency management providers, meaning it augments the existing IT infrastructure in place at each individual Trust

Additional advantages for member hospitals include a reduced reliance on external agency staff and the capacity to fill urgent shifts at short notice, often within minutes. Together, the Trusts will now rely on the Collaborative Bank to facilitate rapid and effective staff redeployment across the capital at this time of critical demand.

Delvir Mehet, Deputy Director for Workforce and Organisational Development at NHS North West London Health and Care Partnership (STP), comments: “The launch of the North West London Collaborative Staff Bank is an exciting and significant landmark in inter-Trust cooperation. Now that the capacity of each Trust’s team of skilled clinicians can be pooled into one shared bank, their impact will be much greater.

“This collaborative Bank will ensure that our hospital wards are always safely staffed and enable our clinicians to seamlessly work across any of the four participating Trusts, in line with demand. This is a positive step towards ever greater cross-boundary cooperation in the NHS, a major goal in the organisation’s long term plan.

“At the North West London ICS, we expect to reap the benefits of the Collaborative Bank, both in terms of enhanced staff wellbeing and greater organisational efficacy, over the coming months.”

Claire Gore, Director of HR and OD at London North West Healthcare, says “In North West London we have been working incredibly hard to prepare for a second spike in COVID-19 infection, and the new Collaborative Staff Bank is set to be an invaluable resource in our strategy.

“The speed at which HR teams can now advertise and fill shifts means that hospitals can act responsively to sudden surges in demand, recruiting doctors from the vast new Bank pool rather than relying on a more restricted internal reserve. With the fast-paced and hard-to-predict nature of COVID transmission, this ability will be crucial to
our success in managing patient flow and getting clinicians to where they are needed most.

“Importantly, the clinicians who have joined the Bank are empowered to self-direct their working hours and location, something which we know to be important to the maintenance of good mental health at this stressful time. Whatever the coming months will bring, I feel confident that North West London’s hospitals are now stronger, more collaborative, and better prepared than ever before.”

Dr Anas Nader, CEO at Patchwork Heath, adds: “We’ve been collaborating closely with Trusts across North West London since February to ensure shifts can be staffed quickly and efficiently at this time of critical need. The launch of the North West London Collaborative Staff Bank is the culmination of these efforts. Through technology, we are able to pool temporary staffing between the four Trusts and massively increase the number of clinicians available for each shift. This means that a peak in demand in one ward can be rapidly addressed, without the need for any duplication of administration or the additional costs that come with third-party agencies. Most importantly, it means hospitals across North West London can safely and easily staff their wards this winter.”


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