Setting The Standard: Flexible Working In The NHS

30th Apr 2021

Locum’s Nest tell us about what Flexification means to them, and why flexible working is such an important tenet of their company.

Flexibility is embedded in our DNA, which is why it’s with great pride that Locum’s Nest has been accredited as a verified flexible employer by Flexa, the official third party auditor for flexible working. 

The certification not only demonstrates our commitment to flexibility for our employees (who awarded us a 100% rating - only ever seen once before!) but for our NHS workers too.

Since 2015, we’ve been on a mission to solve the NHS staffing crisis by enabling true collaborative work for all healthcare workers through our flexible working software. My co-founder, Ahmed, and I experienced the NHS’s workforce challenges first-hand and have since given nearly 40,000 health professionals back control of their work-life balance.

Whilst this is in an incredible step in the direction of a fully flexible NHS, more must be done to better support our doctors and nurses. Here we share why flexibility is so crucial within our healthcare service and how it must be embedded within workforce technology to be successful.

Flexible working in the NHS

Flexibility is a key component in the success of the NHS People Plan ⏰

In July 2020, the NHS introduced the 2020-2021 People Plan; a detailed report outlining what the future holds for staff wellbeing with a focus on fostering a compassionate, inclusive environment. Within the plan, flexibility was a topline consideration. Better working patterns, flexible training for junior doctors and no-justification flexible requests were just some of the improvements outlined. However, to action these promises - and see the success of the NHS People Plan - all organisations across the UK must support flexible working as a priority.

This necessary approach is a direct solution to solving the NHS’s ongoing struggle to attract and retain healthcare talent. Within the most recent NHS Staff Survey, it was revealed that 1 in 3 staff are considering leaving their organisation (1 in 5 leaving the NHS altogether), a number that has only made minor improvements over the last few years. What’s more concerning is the proportion of employees who still don’t have a choice in how they work. Nearly half of all NHS workers are dissatisfied with opportunities for flexible working with over 50,000 leaving their role between 2011-2018 purely due to this reason.

Inflexible scheduling is the cause for much of this timely and costly problem. Rostering for healthcare is a traditionally complex task, often resulting in unfair, noncompliant rotas that have a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of NHS staff who are commonly overworked, faced with long shift patterns and given no room to swap or amend shifts. This leads to many workers going beyond their rostered hours and experiencing the all too common doctor burnout. Therefore, flexibility must be better embedded across all workforce management technology within the NHS.

Flexibile working and rostering

NHS workforce solutions must not treat workers as a series of spreadsheet outcomes and outputs 💻

By rostering NHS workers in a more flexible way, we can dramatically enhance our doctors’ work-life balance - resulting in a happier workforce and much higher staff retention rate. This is not only beneficial to employees but to patients too. Overworked medical staff are increasingly likely to make major medical errors - an astonishing 63% more in some reported cases. Supporting our healthcare workers is therefore not just a chance to do what’s right - it's a crucial opportunity to improve quality of care.

Our leading e-rostering solution, Locum’s Nest Rota, is tackling this important issue across the NHS. By allowing rostering to be a collaborative process, employers can create flexible rotas that balance both patient and staff demands. All NHS workers, from doctors to nurses, pharmacists, dentists and allied health professionals can be rest assured that their availability and preferences will be factored in the creation of their rotas. Easy shift-swapping is also enabled for enhanced flexibility whilst real-time regulations keep rosters compliant at all times.

To date, our cutting-edge technology has matched nearly one million healthcare employees to vacant shifts, saving our NHS millions of pounds every year. Whilst this has helped us win a few awards along the way (as well as a recognition by the Financial Times as one of Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies), we’re over the moon to be well on our way to transform flexible working within the NHS.

Learn more about Locum’s Nest Rota.

Discover how Locum’s Nest Rota can empower your NHS staff and unlock your potential as a flexible organisation.