4 key ways to recruit NHS bank staff (and retain them)

NHS bank staff

It’s no secret that utilising NHS bank staff can be one of the most effective ways of safely and efficiently meeting fluctuating demand. But this isn’t always straightforward.

Many temporary staffing managers battle with inefficient and old-fashioned NHS bank systems and face the ongoing issue of low shift fill rates. This increases reliance on locum agencies to fill rota gaps.

So, how can your NHS bank work better for managers and attract more staff?


In this article, you will learn 4 key ways you can quickly and easily improve NHS bank recruitment and retention at your organisation:


  1. Encourage your temporary workforce to book more shifts
  2. Trial a range of internal promotion tactics to increase awareness of your bank
  3. Make best use of workforce data insights for more informed decisions
  4. Offer new workers comprehensive onboarding support 

In Section 3, we also share our recent guide to increasing shift fill rates. 


1. Encourage your NHS bank staff to book more shifts


Although recruiting workers onto staff banks is a priority in the early stages of bank growth, retaining an active pool of available engaged workers must be a key long-term focus.

Here are some of the ways you can engage NHS bank workers to increase your shift fill rates, as has been successfully tried and tested with 30,000+ workers who use the Patchwork app:


  • Incentive schemes: to boost engagement and encourage shift booking, promote tailored incentives, including exclusive discounts.
  • Flexible training: offer training and development to temporary staff, demonstrating that you’re invested in their future as a valued member of your team.
  • Build a community: communicate with, train and receive feedback from your NHS bank staff, through networking sessions, workshops and focus groups.
  • Engagement surveys: deliver regular and tailored insights on user experience, booking activity and more with staff surveys to optimise NHS bank results.
  • In-app and mailer messaging: communicate directly with bank workers via app or email to advertise vacant shifts and share employee benefits.
  • Instant pay: provide staff with instant access to payment as soon as they’ve worked their shift, as well as budgeting tools, giving them greater financial empowerment and control. For example, Patchwork makes this possible through its partnership with financial wellness company Wagestream.


2. Trial a range of internal promotion tactics to increase awareness of your NHS bank


A lack of time and resources can make promoting the staff bank a challenge.

Identifying ways in which you can quickly and cost-effectively promote your NHS bank internally is therefore essential. From our experience, focusing on the following simple yet highly effective initiatives yields the best results:

  • Induction and technical support on changeover days to onboard new staff efficiently
  • Recruitment events, both virtually and face-to-face to boost bank growth
  • Posters and flyers on-site to generate bank awareness
  • Screensavers for digital branding
  • Branded merchandise, including stationery


3. Making best use of workforce data insights


As shown in our latest report on how to improve shift fill rates – based on live data from analytics tool, Patchwork Insights – workforce data is key to making informed decisions around how best to attract and retain NHS bank staff.

By utilising readily available metrics to track key staffing patterns, you can analyse worker behaviours, attribute results to specific operational improvements, and ultimately optimise for best practice.

Here are some of the ways you can use data insights to improve NHS bank performance:


  • Compare performance across your bank, agency, Direct Engagement and other suppliers to identify best practice
  • Predict and prevent forecasted service cover issues in advance to meet fluctuating demand
  • Track actual and predicted spend to improve financial oversight and facilitate cost savings
  • Monitor how many workers are awaiting onboarding, the average length of the onboarding process, and streamline accordingly.
  • Measure effectiveness of your recruitment efforts by attributing spikes in the number of workers joining your NHS bank
  • Respond effectively to changes in bank worker activity. For example,  identify what has changed that is causing a worker to stop booking shifts i.e. do their credentials need updating, or are they no longer available to work?


And if your teams need support in making the best use of your workforce data, choose staffing software for healthcare organisations, which will do the hard work for you by providing monthly data reports and recommendations for improvement which are tailored to your workforce challenges and goals.


Discover more data-driven ways to develop your staff bank here.


4. Support NHS bank staff with an efficient and comprehensive onboarding process


There’s no point investing time and energy into encouraging staff to use the bank if they’re going to have a bad user experience. It needs to be a positive interaction that ensures staff will keep using your NHS bank to book their temporary shifts.

A slick onboarding process, with personalised support, creates a positive user experience from the first touchpoint with your NHS bank staff, and will in turn help generate the best possible shift fill rates.

This means you need to think about how you verify staff and their credentials, the information they need to provide, and the tech or process they have to interact with to get on board. Assess these touchpoints for friction and frustration – could it be made simpler or automated using the right tech to save on time and resource?

Likewise, booking regular shifts through the bank shouldn’t be a nuisance for staff once they’re onboarded. How they can view and book shifts, manage their working hour compliance, and get paid are all key things to assess.

If you’re embracing new staffing software to make this happen, as so many healthcare organisations now are, make sure that it’s easy to use, offers live support for all uses, and makes using the NHS bank the most logical, efficient, and painless choice for all staff.

Whilst choosing staffing software that is easy to use is non-negotiable, live support for workers with varying technical abilities is a must-have to ensure the successful roll-out and adoption of technology.


Right now, managing an NHS bank can be hard work. But it doesn’t need to be. 

By embracing the tried and tested recruitment and engagement methods shared above, and finding the staffing software to work with, you can transform the bank from being a burden to being a central, successful and sustainable part of your workforce strategy. 

To further discuss methods of how you can improve recruitment and retention of your NHS bank, feel free to get in touch at hello@patchwork.health

Find out how to establish a safe, sustainable and modern staffing solution with Patchwork Health