Driving down workforce spend: how to make your systems more cost-effective

With the recent NHS 2023/24 priorities and operational planning guidance stating that organisations must meet the doubled annual efficiency target of 2.2%, finance teams will be facing significant challenges when it comes to resourcing. To effectively manage restricted staffing budgets, the NHS must have access to systems that can successfully support processes end-to-end, from payroll and budgeting, to recruitment, training and workplace safety. 

Choosing the right technology supplier is an important part of ensuring that these systems are efficient and cost-effective. By considering factors such as expertise, scalability, integration, customisation and support, NHS organisations can make informed decisions about the technology they use to build a cost-effective and safe workforce.

Collated using data from over 100 healthcare sites, below are 5 key areas to consider when selecting a workforce solution to drive down staffing spend and help you meet NHSEI financial targets.

1. Streamline administrative costs by safely automating manual tasks

 

The financial cost that comes with managing your organisation’s workforce can be reduced by working with a supplier that automates and streamlines manual tasks. Prior to adopting a technology solution, one of our partner Trusts reported that over 150 hours were spent each month just processing paper timesheets. Adopting a digital staff bank freed up 100 of these hours organisation-wide, allowing managers to focus on more value-adding tasks that rely on specific areas of expertise, and significantly reducing the cost incurred in administrative labour. Further automation of tasks such as building monthly NHSEI returns should also be considered to maximise financial accuracy and efficiency.

2. Improve financial decision-making with full data visibility

 

Having access to comprehensive, real-time data on workforce trends and performance allows managers to make informed decisions that can optimise resource distribution and improve operational efficiency. This is especially valuable when it comes to financial decision-making; having the capability to analyse quantitative data on staffing levels, agency spend, and shift fill rates, enables managers to reliably identify areas where costs can be reduced. For example, by tracking the use of locum agencies across departments, managers can determine whether additional recruitment drives or broadcasting bank shifts further in advance could drive down spend in the long term. 

3. Reduce the cost of implementing a new system

 

Short-term and long-term support from a technology supplier is crucial to the success of any new workforce system implementation. You should expect areas of support to include preparing for the rollout of the new technology, and providing training and ongoing assistance to ensure that the system is used effectively. Having this support can help to minimise the cost of change, as it reduces the burden on internal resources and ensures that the new technology is adopted quickly and effectively by all users, improving overall organisational performance.

4. Remove inefficient organisational silos with end-to-end system integration

 

Using a single system to manage all areas of your workforce, from rostering, to bank and agency management, has a range of financial benefits. Eliminating the need for teams to switch between multiple siloed systems can:

  • Improve efficiency, as staff do not need to enter the same information multiple times or manually transfer workforce data between systems
  • Decrease procurement costs by removing the need to adopt separate systems and budget for their associated maintenance fees
  • Improve decision-making and optimise future resource allocation by providing a single, centralised source of data

If multiple systems are required, selecting suppliers that prioritise interoperability is crucial to automate time-consuming tasks and minimise the risks that come with double data entry.

5. Minimise the cost of recruitment with digitised payment processes

 

According to recent analysis, the cost of training a new doctor to pre-registration standard can be as high as £245,000. With access to convenient, digital tools that ease the burden that comes with cumbersome, manual or outdated timesheet processes, clinicians may be more likely to remain in their roles.

As our NHS workforce faces a host of critical challenges, carefully considering these factors can help organisations make informed decisions about the technology it uses to reduce spend, improve organisational performance and deliver better care to patients.

 

This article is also available as a free PDF. If you’d like to download a copy of this checklist, click here.