High Impact Action 1: Increase understanding of the issue

Surgeons discussing case notes

24 / 8 / 2015 Midnight

In short, in order to reduce the amount that you spend on temporary staffing, it is first vital that you understand the drivers behind your agency use.
Whilst each organisation will face a unique set of challenges which must be addressed, common reasons for high temporary staffing usage include:

  • high sickness absence  
  • high turnover  
  • slow recruitment time 
  • poor workforce planning 
  • attitudes towards use of agency staff as a routine practice. 

Depending upon the specific nature of the organisation in question, there are a number of specific actions that can be taken to help identify the underlying causes of a high temporary staffing spend. 

These include:

Introduce e-rostering within your organisation

When looking to address the issues that surround the use and cost of agency staff it is vital to have a detailed understanding of the specific drivers within your organisation. An effective e-rostering system can allow an organisation to have complete visibility of how it is utilising its staffing resources, meaning that it can evaluate whether bookings for bank and agency staff are necessary and how the workforce can best be deployed.

At its most effective, e-Rostering systems can link in with systems such as ESR as well as feeding the workforce planning process which can help ensure that establishment figures are linked to activity.

More information on organisations that have effectively implemented e-Rostering can be found here

Ensure that all temporary staff are on a single template and IT system

As with e-rostering, ensuring that all staff are placed on one IT system and are reported on through workforce management systems allows you to ensure that you are utilising your workforce as effectively as possible. This enables organisations to identify the most cost effective way of filling a vacant shift rather than going straight to an agency provider.

Introduce specialist rota coordinators to ensure that rosters are designed to best utilise the trust's resources

Rota coordinators are able to offer an overview of how a department works and ensure that the most appropriate staff are working at any point in time, meaning that the organisation is able to best utilise their workforce. Traditionally many trusts have rotas developed by a member of clinical staff. Not only does the use of rota coordinators enable these staff to dedicate more of their time to patient care, the rota coordinator is able to view staffing across a number of departments meaning that the substantive workforce is utilised to the full before using temporary staff.

Produce weekly reports, highlighting bank and agency usage and the number of staff working at any time

Running regular reports containing detailed and accurate management information can help your organisation ensure that there is consistency across departments in how staff are utilised. This can help trusts identify areas where staff could be better deployed and similarly where there may be unnecessary use of temporary staff.

Ensure that you have information systems in place that allow you to see the difference between the cost and usage of bank and agency staff

In order for any organisation to ensure that it is best using the flexible workforce options it has available, management information systems are required that accurately differentiate between internal bank and external agency staff. Not only can the difference in cost between the two can be substantial, evidence suggests that internal bank staff are able to offer a higher quality of patient care.

As can be seen from these case studies, technology can help employers in this task. Engaging with employees within the organisation, especially those who may be responsible for booking agency staff is also a key factor in increasing understanding.

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