Reinventing Workforce Rostering at NHS Trusts

by Rotageek on 17 June 2021

Reinventing Workforce Rostering at NHS Trusts

In 2019, Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust felt their workforce rostering approach needed reinventing and have since embarked on a strategy to build a collaborative and flexible workforce that has already improved efficiency and patient care across the organisation.

This was the topic of discussion for our panel during our latest workshop on reinventing workforce rostering in NHS Trusts. 

Led by Rotageek with guests from our partner Locum’s Nest and Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, we discussed what a future-fit, people-first rostering strategy looks like and the challenges NHS Trusts face when managing their workforce. Revealing lessons learnt by Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust during this project, this session shares exactly how the NHS can build a collaborative and flexible workforce through the use of a new technology system.



Workforce pressures in the NHS are in dire need of attention

Since the start of the pandemic, the pressures on NHS employees have reached an all-time peak. With major risks around future supply and future engagement, the challenges faced by Trusts to retain and recruit skilled healthcare professionals are only growing.

“We need every tool in our armoury to make sure the current workforce is deployed in the right place at the right time with the right skills, that they are safe and that we are looking after them as much as we can,” says Roger Wilson, Ex-Director of HR & OD at Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. “Things haven’t changed for people working within the NHS over the last 15 months, in fact, it’s just got more intense. And whilst the rest of the population have had more choice in how and where they work, that hasn’t happened for a lot of NHS people, certainly not for the frontline.”

The lack of flexibility within the NHS continues to impact employee happiness and engagement yet implementing flexible rostering is the only solution to ongoing pressures.

“I completed my foundation training in 2016, and in the year I finished, 55% of my colleagues across the NHS left full-time training to travel, change profession etc. That trend has continued… there are a lot more people who value flexible work today” says Dr Ahmed  Shahrabani, co-founder of Locum’s Nest. 

Whilst still working on the hospital wards, Ahmed notes the importance of being a part of the community as a non-permanent member of staff. “That feeling of being part of the family is what will drive job satisfaction - the feeling of autonomy, power and control will ultimately lead to better patient care”.

Collaborative e-rostering is the answer 

When asked during our webinar, half of the respondents had either no rostering solution in place or a solution that wasn't widely used. 50% also found their biggest challenge with rostering technology to be integrated into other useful systems. 

“We need to give people access to good technology in the workplace. All of us are used to it in our domestic settings and we somehow neglect it when people step over the threshold and come into the workplace. “ adds Roger Wilson. “People have become more acute to work-life balance and even more so, a safe balance between their work and downtime. Rostering ensures fairness, equity and safety: it’s critical”.

This was the case for Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust whose previous solution was a mismatch of spreadsheets and different systems that didn’t work alongside each other. 

Managers and department leads had very little visibility across staffing levels, fill rates and leave requests and were unable to gain any kind of overview. Staff also felt the repercussions, unable to easily see when and where they were scheduled to work or plan ahead for big events in the future.

With over 4,500 staff and 500 doctors to accommodate, Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust needed to rethink their rostering to solve their retention crisis and make their organisation an attractive employer. 

Enabling a future-fit, people-first workforce rostering strategy

In line with the NHS People Plan and their own independent Transformation Plan, Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust recognised the impact that investing in flexibility would have on the organisation.

Four objectives were set when assessing a workforce rostering platform. It must;

  1. Instil agility and flexibility to empower visibility and responsive reporting across the trust at different levels -  divisional or departmental, from the Chief Executive to service managers
  2. Offer a future-proof solution that would listen to and adapt to the needs of the organisation 
  3. Provide real-time employee access providing a single source of truth
  4. A system, or group of systems, that allowed the organisation to roster together, collaboratively

The Trust is now in the stages of rolling out a new integrated rostering and bank system through collaboration with Rotageek and Locum’s Nest. By doing so, the agile platform offers more flexibility not just for doctors but for all NHS staff within the various groups, providing enhanced visibility across the whole organisation.

Improving patient care 

Through the use of this new technology, Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are working to build a collaborative and flexible workforce with employees no longer feeling ‘rostered’ but a part of the process. 

For bank workers, this means being able to pick up shifts across multiple trusts without having to register with each individually. For consultants, they’re now able to easily see exactly where colleagues are should they need support, which junior doctors are on their service or who they can call on to help operate. This has already aided better patient care, allowing community-based teams to quickly call on available colleagues in the same building in the case of an emergency.

“Having a more flexible approach around rostering is definitely opening people's eyes to having a more flexible approach to lots of things - it's not the only issue” - Colleen Sherlock, Account Director of HR at Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

This shift from ‘rostering done to people, to rostering done with people is key to engaging the future workforce. Particularly the younger generation who whilst not necessarily looking for a 70 hour week, full-time commitment to one Trust, are no less committed to the NHS overall.


Watch the full webinar here or find out more about our partnership with Ashford St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

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