15th May 2017 Written by Skills for Health

Image: Effective Management of the Clinical Workforce.This week we invited representatives from healthcare organisations across the country to Birmingham for our Effective Management of the Clinical Workforce conference where we revealed that 25% of people still use Excel or paper-based methods for their rostering and offered up solutions to improve efficiency and save on costs in the NHS.

80 delegates gathered at the national conference for insights from keynote speakers, interactive Q&A sessions and tailored workshops, all focusing on using e-rostering in the workplace.

UK professionals assemble for National e-rostering conference 2017

Our survey says...

Recently, we commissioned a survey to find out exactly what the healthcare sector thought about their current rostering processes. We asked over 100 rostering specialists and heads of departments from across the UK to share their insights on workforce planning and the issues they tackle when creating rosters for their staff.

Aside from finding out a high number of people still roster on paper, the survey found that a further 18 per cent said they spend more than eight hours a week on rostering.

Further findings show that 50 per cent of respondents have experienced operational errors with their rosters due to human error and 48 per cent said they would like their current process to be simpler.

We were keen to share these findings with delegates at the conference.

Keynote Speaker: Danny Mortimer

Following an introduction from Skills for Health, first to take to the stage for the keynote speech was NHS Employers’ CEO, Danny Mortimer. Addressing delegates, his keynote speech focused on flexible working and, how, as a concept, healthcare organisations who’ve implemented the concept are already reaping the benefits.

 Laying the foundations for his talk, Danny presented a series of stats from the CIPD Commuting Flexible Working Report and an NHS Staff Survey; the most notable of which being that 65% of flexible workers in the NHS are satisfied or very satisfied with their work life balance.

Developing strategy for efficiency

Following on from Danny Mortimer came a talk from Medical Workforce Specialist, Dr Jen Harrop, who stressed the importance of taking baby steps when making changes. Referencing overcoming barriers like fluctuation in hours and shift patterns, winter pressures and spiralling agency costs, Dr Harrop reflected on how her department has improved.

Some top pieces of advice from Dr Harrop were to be absolutely clear what you want to achieve from the outset and make sure you are communicating with your staff effectively, you are taking them on this journey with you so it’s important that they stay informed.

Real rostering experiences

Following the keynote sessions, delegates attended a series of workshops, covering medical, nursing and operational topics.

Giving delegates extra insight, Nick Pitman hosted the medical session, talking of his experience with Realtime Rostering. Reflecting on using the programme over the last year with NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Nick shared how he tried everything he could to make rostering more fluid but ultimately still laboured through the time-consuming task. After trialling Realtime Rostering with Junior Doctors, the hospital rolled out the system further across the board and has been reaping the benefits ever since.

Meanwhile, The Walton Centre’s HR Manager, Heather Bennett, led the nursing session, again reflecting on her e-rostering experience. Perhaps the most important point to be taken from this workshop is that engagement with staff is key. Indeed, this session in particular was used by delegates to talk about their own systems, share insights on policy and think about how their own organisations can move forward.

The operational session, taken by Dr Jen Harrop, similarly gave delegates an inside look at how rostering can be used operationally with a Trust and how she intends to use it to deliver key benefits. Speaking from personal experience of managing an A&E department, Jen talked about how developments in technology, such as e-rostering, have and will continue to work in our favour when it comes to making strides in patient care.

Through the course of the day, the key benefits of rostering systems were discussed and although many developments focus on the cost savings and budget considerations the “softer” benefits of improved staff morale from better communication, staff knowing where and when they will be working and improved work life balance from planning leave should not be ignored.

The conclusion was made that e-rostering has a major part to play in the operational development of an organisation and is a key component in improving patient care by flexible use of the full skill set of the multidisciplinary team, rather than the current reliance on a fixed number of staff groups.

What did the delegates think?

Laura Bick, Head of Corporate Services at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust attended the conference. She said: “Looking at the survey results, we definitely fall into the 25% that are still using Excel spreadsheets or paper-based methods! We’re going to be rolling out e-rostering across the hospital soon, so we came to today’s conference to try and get some tips on how best to do it. Our departments are still printing out their rosters and pinning them on the wall, so getting them to embrace change and start using e-rostering is going to be a challenge.

“After today’s talks, one thing we’ll definitely take away with us is that communication is really important, we should be telling our staff about the benefits of e-rostering first, rather than just presenting them with a massive immediate change to their routine.”

Wari Orumbie, Implementation Lead for Doctor Productivity at NHS Improvement, said: "Part of my role is for Trusts to understand the benefits and the savings associated with having an e-rostering system, so it was really important for me to come today and get some insight from the sector.

“I think the talks were great; the one thing I will definitely take away with me is that it’s imperative that doctors, nurses or whoever else that will be using the e-rostering system really understand the benefits that they will get from it. It’s really important that they make their own choice and are fully on board with the changes it will bring before they are put into place.”

Realtime Rostering, the new comprehensive software from Skills for Health allows rotas to be organised across all departments. The simple, cost-effective tool offers a solution to workforce planning allowing teams to plan ahead and as a result, ensure their staff are delivering the very best in patient care.

For more information on Realtime Rostering, visit: skillsforhealth.org.uk/realtimerostering

You may also be interested in:

E-rostering: the key to flexible working

Winter pressures: How to ease the strain for hospitals

Exception reporting: how Realtime Rostering will support junior doctors