09th June 2016 Written by Sean Whyment, Senior Manager – Technical Development at Skills for Health

Image: HSJ.Back in April, I attended a roundtable discussion on e-rostering hosted by the Health Service Journal (HSJ), to discuss good practice, highlight barriers of working and ways of overcoming said barriers to ensure the benefits of e-rostering are communicated to healthcare professionals.

I sat on the panel with representatives from healthcare organisations, healthcare professionals and other e-rostering providers.

The roundtable followed on from the HSJ’s investigation into the use of temporary clinical staff within the NHS, through which, the investigation highlighted the role effective rostering can play in reducing this dependency.

We were tasked with answering three questions:

  1. Can good practice in rostering make a difference in healthcare organisations?
  2. Are there barriers to effective rostering? How can they be overcome?
  3. What would get people to change to e-rostering

Overall the group were extremely positive that rostering does make a difference to healthcare organisations and is going to be an important tool for efficient staffing solutions in the future. Here I want to share my opinions on the problems facing the implementation of e-rostering within an organisation and ways to overcome this to encourage more to take up e-rostering to contribute to the creation of a more effective workforce.

Staff concerns

Implementing e-rostering is asking for a major organisational change and is a big step for staff, as they could fear their roles could be replaced by this online system. Staff need to be taken on a journey so they can see the benefits, and reassured that the rostering process still needs to be managed. All staff need to see fairness of allocation and transparency – and the benefits to the individual - maintaining a work life balance and the ability to influence their duty allocations through self-rostering. Through conveying the benefits, the staff will be more inclined to be open to a new system.

Senior staff involvement

I believe it’s imperative that senior leadership staff are involved in the implementation from the start of the process and communicate openly with staff, promoting the new system to prevent staff from feeling as though the new system is thrust upon them without guidance.

Forward planning

With the current healthcare climate, people are busy firefighting current issues affecting healthcare workers, with little time available to spend on longer term planning. E-rostering will provide a quicker way of spotting upcoming gaps or other issues within the rosters to ensure effective cover is in place when needed rather than facing the last minute challenge (and cost) of finding agency staff.

New processes

The new Junior Doctors contract will demand a new process for reporting on rota gaps and other problems within rosters, and e-rostering means all this information is at your fingertips. We’re aware that the recent developments propose sensitive issues, however, the e-rostering system will help ensure that hospitals are providing accurate data on staffing – therefore helping the doctors – as well as the hospital - identify and resolve any rostering issues. E-rostering has also been shown to provide junior doctors with better access to training opportunities during their rotations. 

Final thoughts

The HSJ roundtable was a great opportunity to hear from leaders within the healthcare sector and share thoughts on new rostering developments within the sector. I’d like to thank the HSJ for inviting me to attend the discussion and gain an insight into what the sector has to say on the matter of rostering developments.

Times are changing in healthcare and it’s important that the sector adapts to new technology and ways of working in order to ensure it’s working at its most efficient; resulting in happier workers and improved patient care.

To find out more about Realtime Rostering visit www.realtimerostering.uk or contact your regional director to discuss in further detail.