How Birmingham and Solihull ICS launched a flexible staff pool in 6 weeks
The funding for the 2022/23 digital providers framework from NHS England has been announced, and we’re pleased to say that Lantum received the highest score on the framework.
To help you navigate the framework and the procurement process, we’ve captured some insights from a webinar with Birmingham and Solihull (BSol) ICS after last year’s funding announcement, where their team detailed the steps they took to set up a successful flexible staff pool.
They discussed why BSol prioritised building a flexible staff pool, and how they set out a three-year vision for implementation and operation.
Ravy Gabbria-Navas, Head of Transformation, Primary Care, started the webinar by pointing out that BSol has a strong track record of a proactive approach to primary care. Across their system, they oversee:
- Six localities
- A population of 2.3 million
- 30 PCNs
- 160 practices
BSol’s three-year vision for its flexible workforce was clear. In the first year, the team wanted to set up a digital platform in partnership with Lantum, including GP and nurse roles at the offset. It was important to them to include additional health professionals and offer a bespoke locum workforce experience.
In their second year, they planned to expand the workforce roles offered to include PCN workforce roles like clinical pharmacists, as well as practice managers and admin staff. They also wanted to explore more remote consultation shifts, particularly after COVID-19.
In the third year, after BSol transitioned into an ICS, the team looked to operate a locum platform across their entire ICS.
With 90% of practices onboarded to Lantum, BSol had a bank of 184 staff, with 162 GPs and the rest nursing staff. With a 71% fill rate, not far off their target of 75%, the team was pleased with the early success.
Supporting the nurses in the flexible staff pool was crucial. Jane Hubble, Senior Quality Clinician, spoke about the challenges of getting more nursing staff into the bank, including:
- Retention issues and staffing shortages across the country
- A change in career attitudes in favour of portfolio work and flexible working
- High vacancy rates and a limited number of experienced GPNs and ANPs to fill shifts
- An ageing workforce, with a third of nurses over 55 and many leaving or reducing their hours
Their solution was to provide multiple opportunities to recruit, develop and retain within the BSol General Practice Fellowship schemes. At the time of the webinar, they had recruited 16 GPNs and 2 ANPs, and were providing opportunities for career development, portfolio working, peer support and mentorship.
Overall, the flexible staffing model helped them tackle winter pressures more effectively in their first year.
The procurement process
Gabbria-Navas gave some excellent insight into running a successful procurement process, saying that “it may look daunting, but when you break it down it’s quite manageable”.
The trick, she said, was to build a solid project team for the procurement panel, with a project manager to coordinate and act as a procurement manager at the beginning of the process.
“We had clinical leadership and representation from our training hub, and representation from our local medical committee.”
During the pre-planning process, the procurement manager went through all the documents before the panel met and set aside two hours for a meeting. Every team member contributed to guidance and documentation, scoring live so they had a clear decision by the end.
After deciding on Lantum as their preferred provider, they notified NHS England.
“Lantum has been absolutely amazing in terms of their customer service response,” said Gabbria-Navas. “We’ve worked in true collaboration with them to understand what our model and local requirements are.”
Keys to success
To ensure success, the core project team will stay the same throughout the three-year program.
Their project management approach focused on co-designing an engaging model to serve the needs of their entire system. In bi-weekly meetings with Lantum, they spent time re-evaluating results and tracking KPIs for local and overall. Breaking the process down into key results helped them focus on the steps instead of the enormity of the three-year task.
Getting the right people on board helped too. Their team focused on finding clinical leaders, experts and locum GPs or nurses that could act as clinical champions.
Even before the Lantum and BSol partnership, BSol was already explaining their vision and concerns to Lantum in order to stay aligned with their locum workforce, who were worried about poor communication and isolation – the very problem the staff bank was designed to address.
Growing the BSol staff bank quickly
Partnering with Lantum
When BSol launched their flexible staff bank, many practices in the area and new regions joining the ICS were already using Lantum.
With Lantum, the team could capture “gold nuggets” of data that made the project worthwhile. Finding out where locum staff are is difficult, and Lantum’s platform helped the team see how clinicians were using Lantum and consider transitioning locums into permanent roles.
To get practices on board, the team co-hosted Q&As with Lantum and had lunch and evening meetings to get as many practices on board as possible.
Lantum provided training sessions to get practice managers using the platform, and BSol appointed clinical champions to help bring it forward. The team was particularly impressed with the support from Lantum, noting that “you can drop them a line anytime, day or night, and they’ll get the answer.”
The BSol team recognised that after leaving training for locum work, it’s isolating to be disconnected from your colleagues, networking opportunities, and support.
To supplement, BSol developed a scheme to help locum GPs and nurses form closer professional relationships with others in the same area, access CPD, and get peer support or mentorship.
Lantum also offers GPs more security for uploading documents and a platform for communicating with practice managers all in one place. Plus, with filters for finding work, clinicians can work free of the restrictions that typically come with agency work and find locum shifts to supplement a salaried position if needed.
A practice manager’s perspective on Lantum
Trevorlyn Kerr, a practice manager and peer support group member, finished up the webinar by giving her thoughts on the Lantum platform from a practice manager’s perspective.
She found the platform user-friendly, easy and accessible. Instant Book and Priority Access helped her build relationships with trusted clinicians and fill shifts quicker, while the messenger feature helped her quickly get in touch with locum GPs. She mentioned that getting a hold of Lantum staff and resolving issues was easy.
Using your flexible pool funding
Lantum is committed to working with your ICS to deliver a solution that meets your unique needs and helps you get up and running quickly. Lantum’s Connected SchedulingTM platform helps you:
- Build a multidisciplinary, flexible staff pool that helps you see resources across your organisation
- Save hours on rota creation and admin like invoices and pension paperwork
- Redeploy staff where they’re needed most and quickly stand up services like Enhanced Access sites or vaccination clinics
18 ICSs across England are already using Lantum to save time and money when it comes to workforce management.
To find out more about Lantum and using your funding, get in touch with our team today.