21st October 2019

Image: NHS Grampian logo.NHS Grampian, Scotland’s fourth largest health board, looks after more than 500,000 patients. One of the largest employers in Scotland, the organisation reports directly to the Scottish government on key objectives around rostering compliance.

As with all NHS organisations, it’s vital that NHS Grampian have a robust solution to roster it’s 17,000 staff to ensure patient safety is a key priority.

Prior to working with Skills for Health, each board department within NHS Grampian were manually managing their rosters with tools like Microsoft Excel, resulting in several inconsistencies, making information extremely difficult to access at a senior level. With such a wide-spread organisation and huge staff group, it became an impossible task for managers to accurately report rostering compliance consistently to the board.

There was no automatic way for managers to check hours worked, against compliance requirement. Staff were regularly working overtime, which was impacting patient care and increasing staffing costs.

To try to resolve these common challenges, NHS Grampian sought to find a cost-effective solution to:

  • Increase compliance for hours worked
  • Decrease/eliminate overtime
  • Provide self-service access to rosters and swap/leave information for staff
  • Reduce rostering administration time for senior doctors on rostering, freeing them up for more time to care
  • Improve security by moving rostering to a cloud-based solution

After a robust selection process, NHS Grampian partnered with Skills for Health to implement Realtime Rostering. A unique cloud-based multi-professional rostering platform designed by a team with real-world experience in the healthcare sector.

Realtime Rostering streamlines scheduling, ensures compliance, and gives all staff access to an intuitive and user-friendly self-service portal.

For the detailed implementation process, the team used a phased approach supported by detailed planning and comprehensive training for user groups. This saw three departments selected for initial implementation, including Emergency Medicine - with the most complex rosters. The roll-out identified and demonstrated how Realtime Rostering could be easily adapted to meet even the most challenging rostering needs.

Following the initial implementation, the rostering team at Skills for Health carried out an extensive review of how the three departments utilised Realtime Rostering. By applying the team’s in-depth knowledge of rostering and compliance, they were able to identify simple yet effective solutions to support roster managers in improving their rosters and achieve greater workforce utilisation, navigating a variety of historical issues.

The initial implementation demonstrated successful uptake of Realtime Rostering, and subsequentially the board requested Skills for Health roll out Realtime Rostering across the entire organisation. After a further six-month implementation programme, almost every department had adopted Realtime Rostering to achieve safer, fairer rosters for their staff.

Realtime Rostering not only met all of the board’s initial goals, but also helped reduce unplanned absences and decrease spending on locum staff, a common shared pain-point across the NHS. One senior consultant calculated cost-saving for NHS Grampian as “one programmed activity per week” or around £12,500 per year.

Most importantly, Realtime Rostering is now supporting the staff and management team at NHS Grampian to deliver truly exceptional patient care to the people that need it most, through effective and safe rostering.

Whilst the demand on the UK healthcare sector continues to increase, the alarming reduction in recruitment and retention overall in the NHS is leading to an ever-increasing challenge for workforce planning and rostering managers. The gap between safe staffing need and availability is continuing to grow, resulting in significant increases in the use of external agencies and locum staff. The use of temporary staff plugs an immediate gap on a shift-by-shift basis; however, this model is not sustainable for the majority of NHS organisations.

This simply means it’s in everyone’s best interest for hospitals to be fully equipped with a solution that drives efficiency and cost-saving like Realtime Rostering. A simple to use rostering platform that be rolled out across all staff groups allows senior leaders in the NHS to achieve total workforce visibility, by monitoring every staff group’s work patterns, rosters and even individual shifts. The power this data can provide could be key to identifying future objectives in workforce development and services and help avoid a variety of issues which could lead to poor patient care.

Iain Elrick, Project Manager for Workforce Planning and Redesign at NHS Grampian, explains just how it’s helped them:

“We have found Realtime Rostering to be user friendly. It works really well, it improves governance, gives greater visibility to the organisation and to clinical staff.

“The Skills for Health implementation team were extremely professional and were always there to support us when we needed it. I was also very impressed by the level of customer service we received, particularly from Sarah Connelly, Senior Rostering Consultant at Skills for Health.

“I’ve found Realtime to be really good value and it definitely has the potential to save us money in the long run. The Realtime solution is also a big time-saver and so easy to navigate; the response across the organisation has been positive, especially with Junior Doctors that can access their rota from their phones and tablets, at any time. Implementing change is normally very challenging but as the clinical staff could see the benefits of using the system it has been adopted quickly and without fuss.”

Skills for Health have a deep understanding of the key challenges faced by the NHS and its staff. It’s with this sector knowledge and background that we deliver intuitive and cost-effective solutions like Realtime Rostering, supporting the NHS to continue to provide high-quality care to the public.

Get in touch to see how we can support your rostering and workforce utilisation ambitions.