The power of collaborative staff banks to unlock cost savings
As healthcare services across the UK grapple with the challenges of managing temporary staffing spend, it has become increasingly clear that collaborative workforce planning can unlock significant cost efficiencies.
With agency costs surpassing £3bn per year, formalised NHS Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) are expected to reduce this spending to 3.7% of the total pay bill (a target outlined in the 2023/24 NHS priorities and operational planning guidance).
As such, there has never been a more critical time for ICSs to focus on developing innovative workforce solutions that can reduce staffing costs: collaborative staff banks are one way of achieving this.
Below, our workforce solution experts have outlined a number of key financial benefits of forming a collaborative NHS bank:
1. Minimise agency overreliance with access to a wider pool of NHS bank staff
One of the key benefits of building a collaborative staff bank is that it grants organisations access to a shared network of approved cost-effective bank workers. Participating organisations can tap into this extra staffing safety net when a shift hasn’t yet been filled by internal NHS bank staff, reducing vacancies and improving shift fill rates in line with changing demand across the region.
This additional layer of NHS bank resilience not only ensures that patients receive better continuity of care, but also helps employers to minimise the costs associated with an overreliance on agency workers.
2. Reduce the admin burden for employers and clinicians with digitised workforce solutions
Automating staffing systems and processes across an ICS can unlock significant benefits for both employers and clinicians. For employers, using one system for their local staff banks and a shared collaborative staff bank provides temporary staffing teams with full visibility over workforce planning ICS-wide, without the need for manual intervention or time-consuming data input.
In addition, the administrative burden (and costs) associated with managing multiple agency providers to plug rota gaps can be significantly reduced. Indeed, organisations that use digital systems to empower NHS bank staff to easily fill shifts across a region minimise the need to broadcast shifts to more costly agencies.
For clinicians, this access to a digital temporary staffing platform can minimise shift booking and payment delays that arise from using paper timesheets and manual NHS bank processes, in turn positively impacting bank staff engagement and shift fill rates.
3. Increase visibility over workforce spend to identify areas for cost reduction
The formation of a digital collaborative staff bank can provide ICSs with improved visibility over areas of higher staffing spend, enabling organisations to collectively pinpoint where costs can be reduced. With shared data analytics and reporting, organisations can make more informed financial decisions and seamlessly report on workforce trends in line with NHSEI targets.
We recommend considering a data insights platform that grants all participating organisations access to key collaborative bank metrics, including shift fill across different sites, pay rate escalations per organisation, agency usage and shift lead times.
Now watch > How to meet ICS agency spend targets in 2023
Case Study Spotlight
One example of ICS-wide temporary staffing success in action is the North West Collaborative Bank, which has been operating since 2020. Since its launch, the NHS bank has enabled 24 participating Trusts to fill 171,000+ hours of shifts across the region, retaining £6.4 million in the NHS and saving £1.2 million in agency spend.
A well-established collaborative NHS staff bank, with the right digital supplier in place, can have a positive impact on cost-effective ICS-wide workforce planning. By focusing on improving temporary workforce systems and processes collaboratively, it’s possible for ICSs to drive tangible, positive change across the board.