NHS Trusts “saving millions” in staffing costs with new initiative

As featured in Health Tech World

Over 20 NHS Trusts are making huge savings in staffing costs with the largest ever ‘collaborative staff bank’ – set up to ease the pressures on the staffing problems around the country.

The North West staffing initiative was set up in 2020 to tackle staffing shortages and reduce spending on agencies. It has now announced that 24 Trusts across the region are now participating in the project, that over £6m in staffing costs has already been saved, and over 171,000 NHS shift hours filled.

Tackling “over-reliance” on staffing agencies

The North West Doctors in Training Collaborative Bank (NWCB) – the largest collaborative staff bank in the UK – was launched to help Trusts reduce their over-reliance on external staffing agencies and enable trainee doctors to work flexibly and safely in line with fluctuating patient demand across the region.

Winner of HSJ’s Staffing Solution of the Year 2022, the initiative, led by St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, has saved £1.2m on agency spend to date, and retained £6.2m of staffing costs within the NHS.

The collaborative staff bank – built in partnership with tech-enabled healthcare workforce experts Patchwork Health – provides a network through which shifts can be broadcast to the 6,000 clinical trainees working across the North West.

Approved Doctors in Training can safely and compliantly passport their credentials between the 24 Trusts, allowing them to work shifts outside of their host organisation, without the need for repeated checks or paperwork.

A total of 95% of trainees are onboarded to the bank within 72 hours, allowing them to easily access flexible working opportunities and gain broader clinical experience across different sites.

This is helping support a positive trainee experience, in line with the latest NHS People Plan; boosting overall uptake of bank shifts and supporting continuity of patient care as a result.

Staffing safety net

The collaborative staff bank also acts as a ‘staffing safety net’ for participating Trusts when shifts cannot be filled through a Trust’s internal bank.

This reduces the administrative burden for workforce teams, helps managers to reliably maintain safe staffing levels, and reduces the need to turn to third-party agencies when shift gaps appear.

Dr Anas Nader, Co-Founder and CEO of Patchwork Health, said: “We’re delighted to see the North West Collaborative Bank going from strength to strength and to be celebrating such fantastic results two years after launching.

“It’s a privilege to be working alongside all 24 participating Trusts to provide a sustainable staffing solution which benefits everyone, from the region’s clinical trainees through to their patients and employers.

“Collaboration has never been more important in the NHS, and this initiative is proving just how powerful it can be in supporting a healthy and adaptable workforce geared towards the ever-changing healthcare landscape.”

Catherine Lothian, Assistant Head of HR at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We’re so proud to see our work with Patchwork Health and our colleagues across the North West delivering genuine transformation and benefits for our clinical trainees and workforce management teams.

“This collaboration is helping to unlock increased flexibility for staff and providing managers with greater predictability and workforce oversight.”

The NWCB was recently awarded Best Workforce Innovation at the NHS Confederation’s 2022 Innovate Awards.

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