Tackling rising workforce pressures through collaboration: Cheshire & Merseyside Endoscopy Staff Bank

The Challenge

Endoscopy teams in Cheshire and Merseyside – who are responsible for performing diagnostic tests for conditions including cancer – faced significant staffing challenges due to rising patient demand and growing staff shortages. Without system-wide technology in place, workers were unable to safely passport their credentials and background checks across multiple organisations, limiting the ability to collaborate on workforce deployment as an ICS.

This resulted in time-consuming administrative tasks for workforce teams and endoscopy teams, as repeated onboarding and approval was necessary to allow workers to pick up vacant shifts at different sites and meet regional demand. Consequently, employers across Cheshire and Merseyside experienced an increased dependence on external agency staff to fill last-minute gaps when substantive endoscopy specialists were unavailable.

The Solution

Lead employer Mersey and West Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (MWL) partnered with Patchwork to create a collaborative staff bank which brings together seven of the regions’ trusts to pool their individual networks of temporary workers. Using the collaborative staff bank, the participating trusts are able to deploy temporary staff safely and more flexibly across the system, increasing endoscopy staffing levels in response to fluctuating demand.

The seven trusts, which provide endoscopy at 10 hospital sites and are all part of Cheshire and Merseyside Endoscopy Network, are:

  • Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – Leighton hospital
  • East Cheshire NHS Trust – Macclesfield hospital
  • Mersey and West Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – including Whiston, St Helens and Ormskirk hospital sites
  • Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – Warrington hospital
  • Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – including Liverpool Royal and Aintree hospital sites
  • Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – Arrowe Park hospital

All clinical, administrative, nursing, and medical staff with experience in endoscopy who join the bank are able to view and select shifts across 10 different hospital sites via Patchwork’s connected mobile app. They are engaged through MWL’s Lead Employer team and added to their workforce and payroll systems. Once approved, the platform allows them to browse and book shifts, and grants them access to electronic timesheets showing their hours and pay. The solution also automatically imports necessary information from their main NHS employer to prevent unnecessary duplication in employment checks and training sessions.

Participating trusts also have access to the Patchwork Insights data reporting tool, which provides key workforce insights from across the collaborative bank, including staffing levels, pay rates and shift fill rates. This allows teams to automatically generate the reports they need and make collaborative, data-driven decisions on workforce planning as a system.

The benefit of this system is that workers can be easily deployed across all participating sites with only one onboarding process, fostering easier and more effective collaboration on staffing activities. This streamlined approach significantly reduces the administrative workload for workforce managers, promotes greater flexible working opportunities for endoscopy teams, and enhances the region’s ability to meet demand efficiently.


The Impact

The developments in passporting capabilities via the collaborative bank have led to a significant boost in cross-organisational working and the ease with which employees can move across sites. Not only is this unlocking more flexible workforce planning for the trusts’ endoscopy teams, helping them meet rising demand and reduce patient wait times, but the solution is also serving as a best practice example of how other staff groups can improve passporting functionality in the region.

For the participating trusts, the collaborative bank is:

  1. Providing a greater pool of available temporary staff, making it easier and quicker to meet demand
  2. Easing administration and eliminating duplication of checks such as pre-employment screening and mandatory training to reduce ‘time to hire’
  3. Reducing reliance on external agencies to plug staffing gaps, helping manage workforce costs
  4. Unlocking greater data visibility to more accurately monitor staffing trends, pay rates and shift fill rates across the region

Meanwhile, endoscopy staff joining the collaborative bank are gaining:

  1. Additional work opportunities and the ability to flex shifts around their personal and professional commitments
  2. Greater visibility and control over their shift hours and pay
  3. Faster onboarding and approval, enabling them to safely work across multiple different sites in the region


Tracey Cole, Diagnostics Programme Director, Cheshire and Merseyside, said:

“We are delighted to be able to offer this new way of flexible working so that staff can select where and when they want to work to ensure that all our patients are seen with the shortest possible waiting time.

“Each trust across Cheshire and Merseyside can access this secondary bank in addition to their own internal bank, which means that there will be less reliance on agencies when additional capacity is required.

“Staff are able to work and earn in addition to their substantive employment and share learning and best practice with their peers.”

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