NHS Long Term Plan

The UK takes huge pride in our national healthcare system, but there’s no escaping the fact that changes must be made to secure its long-term future. In 2016, Lord Carter, Non-Executive Director of the NHS Executive Group, conducted a landmark survey, reviewing current efficiency levels in hospitals to see where large savings could be made.

Lord Carter put together a milestone report, the NHS Long Term Plan, addressing how these cost savings can be achieved – and one of the major recommendations was to introduce electronic rosters or e-job plans by 2021. This deadline is now just around the corner.

To meet such an ambitious goal, let’s look at how the right technology will aid a smooth digital transition in the next 12 months, along with the positive impact that e-rostering will have on healthcare shift planning capabilities.

Greater consistency is needed between hospital trusts

There's no doubting the incredible work of the UK's healthcare professionals, consulting and treating thousands of patients every day of the year. However, an organisation as massive as the NHS needs to constantly review and improve the way it operates, in order to remain productive.

In an effort to future-proof our national healthcare system, Lord Carter’s review revealed some interesting variations into the use of planning and scheduling technology. His report remarked that investigations "found variation in the use of modern digital systems such as e-rostering."

Even in hospitals that had adopted e-rostering software, Carter was "struck by the immaturity of trusts’ use of such technology… we recommend NHS Improvement needs to incentivise trusts to fully utilise their existing digital systems, and where necessary, enable them to access some of the Spending Review commitment to invest in digital technologies."

Finding the right shift planning software for a smooth transition

Carter’s findings reveal two important insights for the future of healthcare shift planning.

Firstly, there is discrepancy in the level of digital technology adoption between trusts – meaning many hospitals have not yet embraced shift planning software, hence the pledge to innovate practices by 2021.

Secondly, even trusts that possess e-rostering software are under-utilising it. This is a potential sign that they have experimented with technology that doesn’t meet staff needs effectively, or software that is too complex to easily learn and use.

Both these issues can be solved if healthcare organisations focus on getting the right healthcare shift planning software in place, which enables a quick and painless transition to from printed schedules to e-rostering.

In fact, WhosOffice is already working with a leading hospital trust in Kent to manage its scheduling requirements digitally – including a new task planning feature, which enables staff to check where they are needed via mobile app during the course of their shift.

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Reducing admin while improving front-line care

Digitising the NHS’s shift planning and management process will have a transformative impact on the UK’s healthcare system, as it will significantly reduce the admin burden placed on staff.

Leading platforms like WhosOffice enable managers and team leaders to easily map out staffing requirements for each shift, building template models that can be duplicated days, weeks and months ahead, for simple long-term planning.

More importantly, WhosOffice integrates staff movements including contractual obligations, annual leave, time off in lieu (TOIL), sickness and department meetings into scheduling software, which means rostering decisions can be made based on an accurate overview of exactly which team members are available.

The introduction of task planning enables duties to be assigned effectively during each shift, as well as rostering the right number staff to work in the first place – setting specific levels of seniority to ensure that an optimal mix of personnel are allocated to each task.

Creating a centralised, holistic view of staff availability and responsibilities will cut down many of the back-and-forth communications that occur during the healthcare shift planning process, which ultimately take managers and team leaders away from front-line work.

Crucial shift information delivered direct to staff via mobile apps

It will also ensure that while less time is spent on administration, this doesn’t impact quality of patient care. If anything, it will improve capabilities, as managers will be able to see immediately if the right mix of staff are assigned to key duties each shift.

E-rostering technology that is comprehensive AND easy-to-use

Moving core NHS operations online by 2021 is no small challenge, particularly within hospital trusts that are lagging behind the technology curve. However, it is short-term pain for long-term gain – and with the right technology, the pain of transitioning to a new way of working will be minimal.

WhosOffice is already working with part of the NHS to create new e-rostering capabilities, and we hope to help other hospital trusts make the same upgrade. Even those trusts with software in place may need to re-think their choice of platform, as it’s not enough to tick the e-rostering box; staff can only plan shifts effectively if shift planning technology fits their needs.

Crucially, we want to show hospital trusts that the WhosOffice platform is both comprehensive AND intuitive to use. The easier it is for staff to get to grips with scheduling software – particularly if it’s available via their smartphone – the more inclined they will be to use it, and the bigger difference it will make to our national healthcare system’s productivity.

Hospital trusts can request a free WhosOffice trial to see how our software enables easy e-rostering and task planning, for more effective healthcare shift planning.

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