Figures reveal significant downturn in agency staff use during pandemic

Hospitals’ own staffing banks were able to fulfill staffing needs during the crisis. Statistics gathered from across UK hospitals have […]

Laura Townsend
6 September 2020
Hospital bed

Hospitals’ own staffing banks were able to fulfill staffing needs during the crisis.

Statistics gathered from across UK hospitals have shown that the use of agency staff declined steeply during the pandemic as Trusts embraced new ways of staffing their wards.

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Health technology company Patchwork Health found that across 32 NHS trusts the number of shifts released to external agencies fell by an average of 34% over the four months leading to April 2020.

The reduction in reliance on agency staff indicates that hospitals’ own staffing banks were able to fulfill staffing needs during the crisis.

During May only 11% of the total advertised shifts went to third-party agency staff, a 10% decrease from pre-pandemic levels. Of these, only 5% of COVID-19 related shifts advertised were covered by agency staff.

This data identified that an increase in demand does not necessarily mean an increased reliance on agency staff. Patchwork claims the figures instead indicate that better coordination within and between Trusts can drive down third-party agency reliance and create more resilient and flexible in-house staffing models.

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Investing in staff banks.

Dr Anas Nader, NHS doctor and CEO of Patchwork, comments: “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, staff banks played a critical role in the national response.

“Thanks to their established relationships with hospitals and their ability to deploy quickly, they ensured we had enough healthcare staff on every ward, for every shift.

“As a result of this trend and these financial savings, hospital trusts should now be looking to invest in the long-term expansion of their own internal staff banks. Further success depends on the equipping of staff banks with the correct digital tools to collect and leverage insights, so healthcare teams can control and learn from their own data.

“A focus on barrier free collaboration and a person-centred approach to staffing will allow our hospitals to emerge from this period stronger than ever before.”

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