May saw the launch of the Southern England Collaborative Staff Bank. It is a cross-organisational shared workforce agreement between four hospital Trusts – including two from Surrey Heartlands – working innovatively to fill temporary staffing gaps without paying high agency fees.

In cooperation with the designers of Locum’s Nest, an app that connects doctors to locum work in hospitals without the involvement of agencies, Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital and Royal Surrey County Hospital have combined their staff banks. This collaboration has now expanded to include Hampshire Hospitals and Salisbury Hospital.

Hospitals can struggle with staff shortages and the resulting increased demands on existing staff. A digital solution to allow hospitals not only to tap into their own pool of doctors but breaking down boundaries to allow access to a greater number of doctors has been described as ground breaking.

Dr Maryam Tariq, Clinical Lead for Locum’s Nest, said: “Being a doctor myself, I know first-hand the frustration and soul-destroying affect that dealing with endless amounts of paperwork has. Doctors, either fully substantive or a member of the bank at any one of the Trusts in the collaborative, can now work flexibly and freely between the hospitals without being subject to multiple paper forms.

“Doctors also have greater control and choice over where and when they choose to do any locum work and the hospitals have an instant expansion in the number of qualified and fully compliant doctors available to cover vacant shifts. This improved autonomy and choice for both managers and doctors ultimately ensures seamless and optimal patient care.”

In keeping with the “NHS Five Year Forward View” this collaboration addresses the recommendation for Trusts to work together to address staffing shortages. Workforce constitutes the majority of hospital expenditure.

So far, Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust achieved a net savings of £1.3 million in their temporary medical spend in their first year. Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has seen a 550% increase in staffing fill rates over the past year. 

Elsewhere in Surrey Heartlands, Locum’s Nest is also working with a GP Federation in North West Surrey.

North West Surrey Integrated Care Services (NICS) is a newly formed GP federation consisting of 41 practices across a mixed urban and rural area.  The team was having difficulty in finding GPs to fill vacancies for extended hours clinics and for sessional locums at their practices.

NICS asked Locum’s Nest to get involved and they were able to go live within two weeks, producing some impressive results in just two months:

  • 260 extended hours sessions successfully matched via the app – a fill rate of over 85%
  • Fill rates approaching 70% on sessional locums, both duty and non-duty

Over 100 GPs registered within a matter of days