News, Workforce

Internal staff banks help trusts meet 40% rise in demand


New analysis has revealed that the number of shifts being successfully filled by internal staff banks has increased over the last year, helping to meet a simultaneous sharp rise in demand for temporary staffing in 2023.

Healthcare staffing specialists Patchwork Health analysed temporary staffing data from 17 NHS trusts that use digital staff banks. The analysis compared shift fill rates from the staff banks between January-September 2022 and January-September 2023.

The data revealed a 40 per cent year-on-year increase in demand for additional staff to fill vacant shifts, as the NHS has grappled with rising patient waiting lists alongside staff sickness and absences.

Despite this significant increase in the number of vacancies being advertised, data from trusts using a digital staff bank showed that shift fill rates were not only maintained in comparison to 2022 levels, but increased. Fill rates rose to 77 per cent in 2023, up from 75 per cent the year before, meaning that more than 3 in 4 vacant shifts advertised were successfully filled by staff registered to internal banks. This demonstrates the ability of a temporary staff bank to help trusts meet a significant rise in demand.

The data from Patchwork Health also showed that during the period for 2023, the top 20 busiest days in terms of demand for additional staff were all strike days, when increased staff absence left the trusts with a higher number of workforce gaps to fill. The strike days accounted for 13 per cent of all temporary staffing demand in the nine-month period.

Trusts that can rely on internal digital staff banks to fill short and long-term vacancies can reduce their over-reliance on (and the costs associated with) sourcing clinical staff through third-party locum agencies. The NHS pays more than £3bn a year to locum agencies to provide doctors and nurses at short notice.

Dr Anas Nader, CEO and Co-Founder of Patchwork Health, commented: “The NHS has faced a significant rise in both patient demand and staff shortages over the past year. A marked increase in the number of temporary staffing vacancies is reflective of just how far this demand has intensified.

“It’s so encouraging to see the shift fill rate from digital staff banks simultaneously rising, helping trusts to effectively tackle and meet this growing challenge, and keep services safely staffed. It’s a promising indication that the consistent use of an effective, dynamic staff bank can help us to remain resilient and weather fluctuating demand, while reducing over-reliance on costly locum agencies to plug staffing gaps.”