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Three new Trusts join nation’s largest medical staff bank

An additional three NHS Trusts from across the North West have joined the North West Doctors in Training Collaborative Staff Bank – an initiative led by St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Patchwork Health – that is on track to transform NHS temporary staffing in the region.

Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, and Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust are the latest Trusts to join the Collaborative Staff Bank. 18 Trusts are now fully onboarded onto the initiative, which is the largest of its kind, with others on track to join in the coming weeks.

The system is designed to enable Trusts in the region to reduce reliance on agencies by broadcasting shifts to the c.5,500 clinical trainees already working within the North West’s network of hospitals. Since going live in November 2020, the bank, which will eventually provide digitised temporary staffing support for up to 35 Trusts in total, has already seen thousands of shifts booked through the system.

Acting as a supplementary bank for participating hospitals, the new system allows Trusts to broadcast shifts they’ve been unable to fill through their own hospital bank. This additional ‘staffing safety net’ is already helping reduce spend on external locum agencies and minimising the administrative burden experienced by both NHS bank teams and doctors booking shifts through the bank across the North West. As a result of this new bank, Trusts can also provide better continuity of care to patients by working with a smaller pool of local staff, a benefit not afforded by agencies.

Clinicians booking shifts through the bank can securely and compliantly e-passport their credentials between participating Trusts, unlocking new levels of flexibility for staff and ensuring safely staffed wards for patients. Doctors booking shifts outside their host Trust have also benefited from having their credentials, pay, annual leave entitlements, and hours worked handled through a centralised online system.

The Doctors in Training Collaborative Staff Bank is fully digitised, with shifts broadcast and booked via the Patchwork Health app – a platform designed and led by NHS clinicians. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, technology from Patchwork Health has been used to create COVID staff banks across the country, enabling the rapid redeployment of clinicians in line with virus pressures. Many of these Collaborative Staff Banks are now being made permanent on account of their long-term positive impact on patient care, hospital budgets, administrative workload and staff wellbeing, with clinicians more empowered to work in a way that aligns with their needs.

A number of the Trusts participating in the collaborative bank, including Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, have now also embraced Patchwork’s technology for their own internal hospital bank for all staff types. This means their internal teams and staff can benefit from greater flexibility, easy communication of shifts, cost savings and greater visibility over the workforce, alongside the benefits that come from regional staffing collaboration.

Claire Scrafton, Deputy Director of HR at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, comments:

“It’s been fantastic to see how wholeheartedly the North West Doctors in Training Collaborative Staff Bank has been embraced by Trusts across the region since we launched in November. We’re delighted to welcome Wirral, Bolton, and Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust to the group of Trusts from across the region who have recently also joined the bank. Thousands of shifts have already been filled by a system which is going from strength to strength. We’re looking forward to continuing our collaboration with Patchwork Health and welcoming even more Trusts in the coming weeks. By acting collaboratively, we can make workforce systems stronger and more sustainable at this time of critical need.”

Dr Anas Nader, CEO at Patchwork Health, comments:

“We created the first Collaborative Staff Banks in response to the desperately acute staffing needs sparked by the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, however, we have seen just how powerful these collaborations can be and the long-term benefits they bring. It’s brilliant to see so many Trusts across the North West coming together to pool resources and embrace digital staffing solutions that make a difference to patients, staff and hospitals alike.”

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