Why ineffective rostering is damaging to the NHS

Kevin White’s recent article highlights the need for NHS organisations to improve the way they roster their staff. Amidst increasing pressures to meet targets, many organisations are failing to manage the supply of labour. This leads to issues with delivering a quality service to patients and an rise in spend on expensive agency staff.

If the #iminworkjeremy twitter campaign achieved anything, it was to demonstrate that NHS staff are feeling the strain of increasing expectations, heavy workloads and mounting patient demand. White states:

‘It’s imperative the NHS supports a better work-life balance…by making working patterns more predictable and appealing, it could address high attrition rates and the perceived unattractiveness of full time roles that have created its biggest structural resourcing threat.’

He discusses issues around recruitment and retention of staff, sickness and stress levels and the impact these have. White rightly suggests that effective rostering can give NHS staff the flexibility they need. RotaMaster provides a fair and flexible shift allocation – ensuring the less attractive shifts are divided equally and that days off and gaps between shifts are managed appropriately. He points out that for a team of two individuals, there are 441 ways to allocate a five day shift pattern per week. It’s clear that putting aside old ways of working and embracing the assistance that new technologies can bring is essential to managing these issues and driving improvements.

Last year, NHS spend on agency staff reached an alarming £3.3bn. With the recent news that NHS trusts in England have reported a deficit of £822m in 2014-15, it’s apparent that there are potential savings to be made.

One of the significant benefits of the RotaMaster system is that it helps organisations utilise their existing pool of staff more effectively, rather than relying on expensive agency workers to pick up the slack. As well as allocating staff to the most appropriate shifts, RotaMaster can help organisations manage sickness and annual leave properly; ensuring staff are not claiming more than they are entitled to. RotaMaster’s extensive reporting functionality ensures that managers can monitor their workforce in real time, with just a few clicks. The system also helps organisations identify genuine gaps in staffing so that they can recruit to fill these, often a much cheaper alternative to agency. The costs of implementing a rota system are negligible when analysed against the potential savings.

Many of our customers have been using RotaMaster and seeing the benefits for years. Given that there are solutions such as RotaMaster available, it is surprising that so many large and complex healthcare providers continue to use outdated and inefficient manual rostering. Improving your rostering can have the impact that White describes, saving vast amounts of time and money. Why not contact us today and start realising some of these benefits in your organisation? We’d be very happy to discuss this further with you; call us on 01924 252360 or email us at for more inforiation.