NHS England setting pace for e-Rostering deployment

Northern Ireland health boards urged to take lead from England in procurement of staffing solutions

Following calls for NHS trusts in England to take the lead from their Scottish counterparts over the procurement of IT solutions, a new report suggests healthcare providers in Northern Ireland have much learn from England’s approach to e-Rostering.

Far from lagging behind on the introduction of innovative workforce management solutions, England’s NHS is setting the pace for the rest of the country, according to a paper published today by IT supplier, SMART.

The business case for deploying e-Rostering and bank management systems is well proven on paper, but some health boards still balk at the potential disruption

The document provides a number of case studies, including the deployment of e-Rostering at the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, which is on track to save the organisation £5m a year simply by reducing reliance on agency workers.

It claims a similar rollout in Northern Ireland would help to meet the demands of the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) Service Plan 2012 , which calls for temporary, agency and overtime payments to be halved.

Tristan Spencer, director of the health division at SMART, said: “The business case for deploying e-Rostering and bank management systems is well proven on paper, but some health boards still balk at the potential disruption. However, implementing these systems often acts as a positive catalyst for change.

“As health boards in Ireland, along with those in England, face huge budget cuts, harnessing technology and looking at new ways of working has to be seriously considered. Based on our experience working with many trusts, we see average annual savings of €35,000 per ward or €1,200 per employee. However, for many health authorities the savings can be much more.”

Based on our experience working with many trusts, we see average annual savings of €35,000 per ward or €1,200 per employee. However, for many health authorities the savings can be much more

The paper includes an overview of work carried out at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, which saved 1% of its total nursing budget by reducing ‘head room’ allowance from 24% to 23%. This refers to the extra staff needed above established requirements to ensure there is cover for holidays, sickness and other absences. Ward sisters have also benefitted as the time taken to produce rosters has been reduced by around 75%.

And at one forward-thinking trust in Northern Ireland - Western Health and Social Care - the deployment of e-Rostering at Altnagelvin Hospital has acted as an agent for change, allowing the health board to move from the traditional 12-hour ‘long-day’ shifts, to more efficient and more family-friendly shorter shift patterns.

Spencer said: “As we have seen at our roundtable events held at various locations throughout Ireland, there is certainly a willingness to look at workforce management systems. Health Boards and the HSE now need to take the plunge and start deployment if savings are to be made in time to meet current budgets.

“But it is not just about saving money. These systems enable providers to manage their staff more effectively and ensure quality of patient care is maintained.”

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