How to easily gather data with an integrated NHS workforce solution

NHS staff collaborate to analyse data on a laptop

The NHS is currently fighting a range of critical workforce challenges – the recently released NHS Staff Survey reported that only 26.4% of participants felt there are enough staff at their organisation to do their job properly. To support organisations, managers and clinicians in overcoming these current pressures, NHS England recently stated that “People, data, and technology are crucial to the ongoing evolution of our NHS.” 


When it comes to bringing these three priorities together in practice, our experience working with over 100 healthcare sites shows that utilising an end-to-end workforce solution is most effective. This involves ensuring that your rota, staff bank and agency manager solutions work together seamlessly to meet the organisation’s individual staffing requirements. 


If systems are fragmented, organisations are much more likely to encounter a range of issues that can negatively impact workforce planning and management. One area that can be affected in particular is data gathering and reporting


Data plays a crucial role in the successful operation of the NHS, informing decisions on patient care, resource deployment, and performance monitoring. However, gathering and analysing the data required to produce reports can be a complex and time-consuming task, especially when the data is spread across different systems. 


While many staffing teams understandably find this frustrating, the good news is that there is a solution: using an end-to-end workforce solution, or prioritising interoperability between systems, both of which enable seamless, cohesive and efficient data reporting. So what are the benefits?


Increased grip and control over NHS staffing activity


Data visibility can enable workforce teams to maintain better control over current and future staffing requirements. By analysing staffing patterns, healthcare organisations can identify areas where vacancies are high and provide additional support as necessary. For example, if data shows that a particular department consistently experiences a high patient-to-staff ratio, it may indicate a need for additional long-term hires.


Using one system to access all current workforce data can also help organisations predict future staffing needs. Up-to-date metrics across all staff groups, sites and systems enable workforce teams to better anticipate changes in demand and adjust their workforce planning accordingly. This proactive approach can help prevent staffing shortages and ensure that the right people are in the right positions to deliver appropriate patient care.


Finally, data visibility can also help healthcare organisations identify areas where they can reduce staffing costs. By analysing patterns and trends all in one place, from rostering, to bank and agency, higher areas of spend can be uncovered (for example increased pay rate escalations or agency overreliance), and improvement plans put in place. 


Minimised manual workload for NHS staffing teams


One of the most significant benefits that come with greater data visibility is the reduction in manual tasks for staffing teams. By having all data in one place, staff can avoid the tedious and time-consuming process of manually searching for the information they need. Instead, data can be automatically collated, processed and presented in a way that is easy to understand and analyse. 


For example, the bespoke NHSEI dashboard in Patchwork Insights is designed to do just that. The dashboard automatically builds NHSEI returns for its users, meaning staff no longer have to worry about collating and formatting data; they need only copy and paste the information into the relevant report section. By reducing the time spent on administrative tasks, staff can spend more time focusing on patient care and other high-value tasks.


Reduced risk of human error


Having visibility of NHS staffing data is crucial for reducing the risks that can arise from relying on manual inputting. When workforce teams have direct access to the data they need in one place, they are less likely to go ‘off system’ to find and store  information, in turn reducing the risk of potential inaccuracies. 


When data can be automatically transferred between multiple systems, staff members have access to consistent information, without having to manually input data numerous times. This automation significantly reduces the risk of discrepancies and inaccurate reporting which can arise when relying on manual processes.


By utilising an end-to-end workforce solution, it’s clear that organisations are granted better access to much-needed workforce data, which comes with a whole host of benefits. We recommend that in the coming months, NHS organisations ensure that their rota, staff bank, and agency manager solutions are fully integrated, to improve workforce planning and management in a sustainable and effective manner. 

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