With over 8 years of working within the NHS to deliver temporary workforce management systems Jack Mazzina is passionate about helping trusts and health boards improve control, bring costs down and improve self-sufficiency. Here he tackles the top five reasons NHS trusts and health boards have become disengaged with their temporary workforce provider.
NHS trusts and boards use Liaison Workforce from ‘Board to Ward’ – enabling control at every stage from vacancy release to payment; and can include staff sourced from a trust’s own bank, another trust’s bank or an agency.
We’ve supported trusts and health boards of all sizes and specialisms, across heavily concentrated and geographically spread areas for some 30 years. This means we have access to more detailed, comprehensive information about a trusts’ workforce planning enabling us to be responsive to both the NHS and individual trust and health boards’ needs.
The success of our trust partnerships within the NHS mean that we are often referred in to meet with neighbouring trusts if temporary staffing problems are flagged.
The most common reasons we’re asked to review existing locum worker provision solutions are listed below:
- Lack of helpdesk or customer service support
This is the biggest internal headache for most trusts where resources are already overstretched. The administration behind managing a locum workforce is often underestimated by solution providers.
Switching to a new provider is never a completely smooth process which is why it’s important that the provider you choose has the right support in place to reduce pressure on internal staff and keep the temporary workforce engaged. Look for a dedicated helpdesk for workers, agencies and booking teams. In addition is important to have regular onsite support both during and after implementation.
- Locums not getting paid on time and not understanding payslips
If you want to attract locum workers then you have to look after them. Not getting paid on time, or even at all, is unacceptable. If the payroll process is not simple– confusing payslips and overcomplicated timesheet approval processes being cited as recent examples – then workers are going to frustrated and less likely to apply for shift work within your trust or health board.
Look for suppliers that can provide an IR35 compliant and ‘true’ weekly payroll service. Experience has shown a shift to PAYE working in line with NHSI directives. It’s important that NHS organisations support this directive and ensure workers can be paid compliantly via PAYE.
- Workers unhappy to work via your proposed model
We’ve seen instances of workers being forced to work via an umbrella as opposed to PAYE direct and there is a real resistance to this in the NHS.
For example, the Liaison agency direct employment model for temporary workers means that the NHS trusts continue to source their workers through an agency but they then contract and pay the individual doctor directly for the duration of the booking – in a similar way to how trusts engage bank workers. The agency fee disbursements can also be managed by us. We consistently get high utilisation on agency direct employment because of the simple process and support we offer to workers, agencies and booking teams.
- Lack of traction with internal bank growth to reduce reliance on agencies and bring down costs
Although we know through our own ‘Taking the Temperature’ report that 4 out of 5 trusts now have their own substantive bank, many trusts just don’t feel that they are growing sufficiently fast enough to reduce reliance on agency staff and meet NHSI agency ceiling targets.
You’ll need to optimise your existing staff bank, manage trainee hours and engagement to improve governance, compliance and ultimately, patient safety. If your supplier isn’t commercially motivated to grow your bank i.e. offering you a ‘free’ bank solution, then many trusts find they don’t deliver – simply because the supplier isn’t driven by non-revenue generating activity.
Using a shared bank platform enables NHS trusts and boards to pool their bank staffing resources regionally. This means that those NHS staff wishing to undertake additional shift work can do so at neighbouring trusts as part of shared bank of temporary resources, rather than as a more expensive agency worker. This empowers and encourages trusts and boards to work more collaboratively using marketing leading technology and we’re currently working with eight trusts in the LET to develop this model. They’ve already seen some great conversions – 840 doctors registered on the bank across 41 specialties with other trusts interested in coming on board. i
Make it easy and convenient for your locums to switch to bank. Market leading tech and effective support and consultancy will help develop and grow your bank. We’ve had a great take up on our TempRE workforce app designed for locums, bank staff and other healthcare professionals from NHS trusts and health boards whose employer uses the TempRE service.
Candidates can sign contracts, confirm shifts and submit timesheets in real time. The app also enables bank workers to access live bank vacancies and apply for bank shifts quickly. The app encourages locum conversion by creating working efficiencies for temporary workers.
It’s prompted a marked increase in doctors applying for shifts and an uplift in fill rates.
The feedback from workers tells us it’s easy to use and they love the ability to quickly apply for and confirm shifts on the go.
- Agency suppliers disengaged with workforce solutions provider
Unless trusts have grown their own internal bank then there will still be an ‘agency worker first’ approach to filling shift vacancies. This heavy reliance on good agency relationships to get the right locum at the right grade and speciality can come unstuck if the agency does not want to work with your solution supplier.
Barriers to the agency adoption of temporary resources solutions include lack of support, limited technology capability and differing vendor management models.
It’s important for your temporary workforce supplier to maintain a co-operative relationship with the agencies, including all framework agencies to ensure ‘safe ward’ practice.
It’s equally important that locums supplied by agencies are kept happy – this means taking on a solution with a reliable payroll service.
Ensuring that all agency disbursements – invoicing and payments, managing supply chain invoices and payment terms are dealt with through one point of contact with your supplier is never easy, yet we’re doing this with some 140 agencies across the NHS.
Business Development Director