5 simple steps to building a collaborative staff bank

COVID-19 has highlighted the need to collaborate beyond traditional organisational boundaries. When it comes to healthcare staffing, the pandemic has demonstrated the benefits of being able to quickly deploy resources where the need is greatest. To do this, we need to minimise institutional boundaries and streamline how we collaborate between teams, organisations and across regions.

One way of doing this is through the creation of collaborative staff banks. These collaborative banks increase the size of a contingent workforce; one that can be mobilised quickly and easily, avoid duplication in onboarding, and help ensure resources flexibly align with need.

How, then, can Trusts and regions develop collaborative staff banks in a straightforward, time-sensitive and streamlined way? In this piece, we outline the 5 most important steps to consider:

1. Embracing collaboration 

Embracing the need for greater collaboration across the NHS is the first step. As recent months have shown, working in silos slows down decision-making and impacts care. To streamline operations and ensure patients and clinicians are supported in the best possible way, we need to work together. Embracing regional partnerships and championing the pooling of knowledge and resources will create the best foundations for a successful collaborative staff bank.

2. Integrate with and augment existing systems

Next, collaborative staff banks need to augment local staff banks and minimise any disruption to internal processes or data flow.  End-to-end integration with existing systems is therefore essential. A truly effective collaborative staff bank will be underpinned by digital infrastructure which can integrate with; rostering systems, managed services, bank management providers, vendor management, and payroll systems. Before you start implementation of any new system, make sure it can streamline and improve current processes – not add additional burdens. Otherwise, you’ll be creating headaches instead of removing them.

3. Compliant passporting

The biggest benefit of collaborative staff banks is the ability to pool and share staff across providers. This allows clinicians to work where they are needed most: crucial in a situation of heightened need such as the current pandemic. The digitisation of passporting for clinicians means this process can be quick, reactive, and streamlined. The Patchwork in-app digital passport, for example, is underpinned by a legal framework agreed with the participating Trusts and allows compliant workers to move freely between organisations without duplication in background checks. This also allows new workers to join the collaborative bank. To truly benefit from a collaborative staff bank, this type of digitisation of core information and the ability to passport it between employers is critical.

4. Harmonisation with localised control 

Ensuring that each Trust can retain localised control within the wider collaboration is also incredibly important. Any systems must therefore balance the benefits of pan-regional collaboration with the nuanced needs of each team and organisation.  It can be challenging to harmonise rates and processes across an ICS – especially without live granular data on current performance. Make sure you have access to shared insights across the region, so you can tailor processes in real time. Dynamic data reporting will allow individual Trusts to retain control in the areas where they need it, so make sure these are something you’re able to access.

5. Flexibility in payment models

When it comes to managing payments in collaborative banks, our experience tells us one size certainly doesn’t fit all. Being able to offer a range of payment methods, and operating a payroll system which can support that diversity, is a core element in creating a successful collaborative staff bank.  From offering monthly, weekly, or even instant payments to bank staff, to choosing one of multiple recharging models between employers, make sure you’ve explored all the options and are catering to the range of needs a collaborative bank workforce will have.



This year has fundamentally re-shaped how the NHS operates and how its hardworking clinicians support patients. As we look ahead to a second wave and beyond, we must harness the positives which have arisen from the crisis. Increased collaboration and partnership are emerging qualities that we must embrace and embed for the long-term.

For more information get in touch at hello@patchwork.health

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