£7.5 million to digitally schedule shifts and save NHS staff time

  • The investment is part of a £26 million national fund to have all NHS doctors, nurses and other clinical staff on e-rostering systems by 2021, shown to be particularly invaluable during the pandemic
  • E-rostering can save time and effort when redeploying staff, digitally matching staff skillset with patient care requirements and geography, while managing working hours and pay to save clinicians time and effort every week

NHS hospitals, clinics and pharmacies across 38 more trusts will be able to save staff time and money by rolling out digital shift planning, known as e-rostering systems, thanks to £7.5 million government funding.

During the pandemic, e-rostering has proven instrumental when redeploying staff, reporting absences and managing working hours and pay information, notably for vaccination centres. NHS trusts have reported an increased appetite across clinicians to implement e-rostering as a result.

E-rostering allows clinicians to select shifts digitally, providing them with more flexibility and more efficient work schedules. Specific skillsets can more easily be matched to the right shifts when redeploying staff using digital staff passports. The passports are currently being piloted and can save staff and HR teams time by providing a verified record of identity, employment and training on their smartphone. These have been used during the COVID-19 response to redeploy staff quickly to support areas in need.

A 2018 study (see footnote) showed one of the functions of e-rostering – caseload scheduling – could save each NHS clinician 34 minutes a week, which can add up to hundreds of hours per trust. By planning routes between healthcare settings or to patients’ homes for home visits, clinical resource can be geographically matched so NHS staff can spend less time travelling and more time with patients.

Minister of State for Care Helen Whately said:

People are at the heart of the NHS. Our doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers are the greatest asset we have. I’m determined to help NHS trusts get the best out of our talented healthcare workers and give patients the care they deserve.

We’re delivering on another commitment in the NHS Long Term Plan to support the use of electronic rosters. E-rostering is a crucial tool to make the most of our dedicated healthcare professionals’ time for looking after patients – something which is needed more than ever during this pandemic.

Managing shifts more effectively also makes it easier to work flexibly, giving our hardworking clinicians a better work/life balance. I’m pleased even more trusts will now benefit thanks to this £7.5 million funding boost.

I’m excited to see how this technology can be implemented in the future, not just in hospitals and pharmacies, but in social care too – making sure everyone gets the right care at the right time.

The trusts benefiting from this latest funding include mental health and community, specialist and general acute trusts.

The technology can also cut costs for the NHS by reducing the reliance on staffing agencies.

Five NHS trusts will be using the software to also schedule patient appointments.

The £26 million national rollout to 68 trusts in total is part of the NHS Long Term Plan ambition to equip all shifts for doctors, nurses, Allied Health Professionals, health scientists and pharmacists with e-rostering systems by the end of 2021.

Four NHS trusts which received funding earlier in the rollout have created the North West London Collaborative Staff Bank, a shared pool of available clinicians who can fill shift vacancies to match surges in demand from the pandemic and wider winter pressures.

This is part of a wider strategy by NHS England and Improvement and NHSX to build a collaborative and flexible workforce through the use of technology. The Department of Health and Social Care will continue to work with NHS trusts to improve and upgrade their workforce deployment systems.

Anna Stabler, Executive Chief Nurse at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust said:

We’re delighted to have been awarded this funding to help us develop a community workforce deployment system for our nurses and Allied Health Care Professionals working in the community. The funding will be utilised to deliver electronic rostering and case management systems that will in turn benefit our staff and patients alike.

It will mean our staff can support patients in a more timely manner, whilst reducing their travel time and improve their working arrangements. We’re very much looking forward to getting this piece of work underway.

Funding allocation by NHS organisation

NHS organisationBid typeProfessional groupRegionSectorTotal award (‘000)Additional trusts involved
Cambridgeshire Community Servicese-Rostering and e-Scheduling ImplementationNurses and AHPsEast of EnglandCommunity£74
Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation TrustMedic RosteringDoctorsEast of EnglandAcute£290
James Paget University Hospital NHS Foundation TrustNorfolk and Waveney Collaborative BankMulti-professionalEast of EnglandAcute£520Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust
James Paget University NHS Foundation TrustCommunity e-Rostering Project – includes interface with patient information systemMulti-professionalEast of EnglandCommunitySee above
Sutton Health and Care (SHC) and Surrey Downs Health and Care (SDHC)- hosted by Epsom and St Helier TrustE-Allocate – SHC and SDHC (ESHT)Multi-professionalLondonCommunity£36SWL, Surrey Heartlands (for Surrey Downs Health and Care)
King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation TrustMedical e-Rostering ProjectDoctorsLondonAcute£336
University College London Hospitale-Rostering SystemDoctorsLondonAcute£203
Central and North West London NHS Foundation TrustMedical Rostering ImprovementDoctorsLondonMental health£62West London NHS Trust
East London NHS Foundation TrustMedics RosteringDoctorsLondonMental health£190
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation TrustAHP job planning and rosteringAHPsLondonAcute£218
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Truste-roster for AHPs and medicsAHPs and doctorsMidlandsAcute£154
The Dudley Group NHS Foundation TrustCompetency-based rosteringDoctorsMidlandsAcute£127
George Eliot Hospital NHS Truste-RosteringDoctorsMidlandsAcute£386
Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS TrustRostering and job-planning for community staffMulti-professionalMidlandsCommunity£111
Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation TrustCommunity Workforce Deployment System ProjectMulti-professionalMidlandsSpecialist£237
The Royal Wolverhampton NHS TrustAHP and PharmacyAHPs and pharmacistsMidlandsAcute£491
Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Truste-Rostering System Project – North Cumbria Inpatient Wards and Trust Wide Community ServicesMulti-professionalNorth East and YorkshireMental health£417
Gateshead Health NHS Foundation TrustMedical Workforce e-Rostering ProjectDoctorsNorth East and YorkshireAcute£140
York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation TrustMedical e-Rostering ProjectDoctorsNorth East and YorkshireAcute£258
Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation TrustIntegrated Scheduling SystemMulti-professionalNorth East and YorkshireAcute£200
The Walton Centre NHS Foundation TrustImproving Workforce Deployment Project (IWDP)NursesNorth WestSpecialist£280
Mersey Care NHS Foundation TrustLooking Beyond the Roster Care Needs First – Mersey Care and North West BoroughsNurses and AHPsNorth WestCommunity£300North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation TrustCommunity Workforce Deployment SystemNurses and AHPsNorth WestAcute£618
Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation TrustMedical e-RosteringDoctorsNorth WestAcute£133
Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Truste-Rostering and e-Job Planning for Medical WorkforceDoctorsNorth WestSpecialist£97
Lancashire teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation TrustCollaborative AHP Staff BankAHPsNorth WestAcute£505Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundations Trust, East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, Morcombe Bay Foundation Trust
Manchester University NHS Foundation Truste-Rostering Project for Clinical ProfessionalsAHPs, pharmacists and HCS (non-medical)North WestAcute£367
Pennine Care NHS Foundation Truste-rosteringMulti-professionalNorth WestMental health£116
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS TrustClinical e-RosteringDoctorsSouth EastAcute£118
Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation TrustMedical e-Rostering SolutionDoctorsSouth EastAcute£285
Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital NHS Foundation TrustWorkforce Deployment System ProjectDoctorsSouth EastAcute£220
Total£7,489

Footnote: A May 2018 Newton Europe Consultancy review of community services found that route planning and geographic matching of clinical resource and demand could save travel time by 20% and 30% respectively. The use of scheduling solutions could, assuming a conservative estimate of 10% lower travel time, save 34 minutes per clinician per week, allowing them to see more patients.

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