Thank you to all of our NHS Heroes

The public value of the UK’s healthcare system has never been higher. 2020 has thrown new and inconceivable challenges at the NHS, and all medical and administration staff are working their absolute hardest to provide first-class care for patients across the country.

However, there is no doubt the healthcare sector was under pressure even before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, and the vast number of coronavirus patients needing urgent treatment is pushing the current infrastructure to its limits.

Beyond access to resources and materials, keeping the UK healthcare system in full working order relies on watertight shift coordination, to ensure there are enough staff available at all times to maintain patient care standards. But this isn’t easy to achieve within hospitals that are using manual shift planning processes or outdated technologies.

As a leading provider of online shift planning tools to the healthcare sector, WhosOffice would like to offer some guidance on how improved e-rostering can help healthcare providers improve operational efficiency, to place their full focus on patient care – not back-office admin:

Setting up the healthcare system for success

We’re lucky enough to have a fantastic healthcare system in the UK, run by over 1.2 million doctors, nurses, midwives, clinical staff and infrastructure support staff. Making sure these professionals are put together in a strong team for every single shift is a delicate art – one that’s not easy to achieve without specialist shift planning technology.

Report on skillsets within your company

The challenge is two-fold: firstly, managers and department leaders need to make sure there are enough staff on-shift to maintain patient care standards at all times. There also needs to be the right mix of people in different job roles, to keep day-to-day requirements running smoothly, while also enlisting specialist support.

While it’s possible to achieve this with a manual spreadsheet or basic shift planning system, it is a much quicker process if staff use sophisticated shift planning software, which allows them to set regulations around how many people need to be scheduled for each shift, in what roles.

The online scheduling system will then flag when there are gaps in the rota that need to be filled – or identify where certain shifts may have inadvertently been overstaffed, helping to streamline employment costs.

Secondly, managerial staff need the power to adapt schedules at the last minute – whether due to changes in people’s availability, or a sudden need to scale-up operations. Technology makes e-rostering easier, as managers are able to quickly create or duplicate shifts, dropping them in where needed.

Reacting quickly to accurate staff availability

One of the biggest challenges the healthcare system faces is creating schedules to fit multiple staff contract types, while incorporating other factors that affect people’s availability, such as annual leave and sick leave. The right shift planning technology can make a huge difference here, as market-leading platforms integrate annual leave tools with rota building features.

Map shifts and schedules

Managing upcoming shifts and staff leave through one system enables managerial personnel to base decisions on an accurate picture of who’s available to work; so part-time employees don’t get assigned shifts on a day that’s not included in their contract, and any staff who are ill or have booked time off will be excluded from the bank of available personnel to fill scheduling gaps.

Taking this integrated approach enables much more effective shift planning – not only when scheduled time off needs to be incorporated, but also in unprecedented situations like the COVID-19 pandemic. Many NHS staff have sadly fallen ill with coronavirus, or needed to self-isolate for a period of time due to potential coronavirus symptoms. Shift planning technology enables team leaders to give them the time off they need to rest and recover, while ensuring that vital work looking after the British public can continue on the front-line.

Making schedule changes on-the-move

In a busy hospital, shift plans aren’t something set in stone well before time – they can change during the course of a day, with staff needing to be reassigned responsibilities based on real-time events. Detailed task planning on an individual shift, viewed in context with other staff workload incorporating all daily tasks, enables managers to forward plan and make changes to e-rosters on-the-go.

Tasks overview on staff members phone

Some scheduling software (such as WhosOffice) is available not only as a centrally accessible online system, but also as a mobile app, through which key workers can access their timetable and daily task list on the move.

If there is an urgent notification or change to processes mid-shift, this can be communicated to all affected employees via their app, to make sure the right people are in the right place at the right time to provide the most effective front-line services.

Ensuring patient care remains the full focus

The NHS is a jewel in the UK’s crown, and we are all incredibly proud of the tireless work its employees put in to provide outstanding care and treatment for people in our country. But there is no escaping the fact that its network of dedicated professionals are often working under extreme pressures, which could potentially be eased with better operational support.

WhosOffice has already worked within the healthcare system to pilot new shift planning projects, in order to help both medical and back-office staff work together effectively, meeting patient needs in the most effective, joined-up way, while optimising staff requirements and employment costs.

Notifications on WhosOffice mobile apps

With 2020 stretching the healthcare system beyond previous limits, we’d like to help even more hospitals and medical centres to improve shift planning and take the administration burden off their shoulders.

Book a free WhosOffice trial to see how our software supports better healthcare shift planning and helps you towards your e-rostering goals. Alternatively, get in touch for strategic shift planning advice.

Photo by Kat Jayne from

Stay at home, Protect the NHS, Save lives