14 Sep 2020

Setting up staff banks: what you need to know

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Lantum set up its first staff bank in 2015. Now 262 PCNs use a bank powered by Lantum. Here's what you need to know about staff banks and what to consider when you set one up.

[HARRY] Hi, I'm Harry. I'm the senior business development consultant here at Lantum.

[HARRIET] And I'm Harriet, Lantum's content manager. Today, we're talking staff banks. The NHS People Plan recently came out. What mention did it make of staff banks?

[HARRY] It sort of alludes to it, in the sense of ‘we need to build up better resilience in the workforce’. I think now more than ever, particularly with what's happening in the global pandemic, there is a need for flexible working changes and staff banks really talk to that.

It's been a key part of the recently announced plan, but they're not necessarily a new concept. They've been around for many years in the NHS, both in varying shape and form.

The principles tended to remain the same: create a pool of local GPs, who can pick up additional shifts as and when needed, who know the referral pathways and the lay of the land, as it were, which creates this community of reliable resource that a practice or a provider can call upon.

So it's been mentioned that now there is this shift to offer flexible working options, more so than ever before, and obviously the People Plan talks about the recent announcements urging everyone from system-level through to neighbourhood and primary care network level to prioritise the use of staff banks ahead of the typically expensive locum agency route.

Which is nothing new - we've always known that that's often the preferred method of filling shifts, but it just means that, now more than ever, there's a spotlight on the benefits of operating in that way and also increased focus on the performance of them.

[HARRIET] And what would you say those benefits are? 

[HARRY] One of the key reasons that I believe it's important to have a staff bank, or one of the key reasons that staff banks are important is because they can enable a greater resilience amongst the workforce.

The number of fully qualified GPs is dropping every year. It's dropped 2.3% already since last year. It's expected to drop further next year. At the same time, you've got demand for health services increasing year on year. So it's no surprise that many healthcare professionals feel burnt out, GPs chiefly amongst them.

So this idea of building resilience in the workforce and having additional knowledgeable staff to call upon when needed can really help practices and providers cope better with the day-to-day pressures of working in a fast-moving medical environment.

Practically speaking, it can be more of a cost-effective way of recruiting, giving both provider and clinician more flexibility when it comes to working. That's also traditionally a core appeal of staff banks for the workforce, I believe, but it's offering that flexibility and a means of tapping into resource that you might not have had access to previously.

So whether that's the skill and talent of approaching-retirement-age GPs, or GPs that have indeed retired, but there's a wealth of knowledge and experience that they have, it's 'How do you tap into that?'

And how do you tap into those GPs that are in your area, that might have some spare capacity - how do you tap into that?

How do you access that in a way that is not the traditional partnership route, or not going down a salaried route. How do you tap into that, that you can use that expertise on a more flexible arrangement, as it were.

[HARRIET] So let's say you like the idea of a staff bank, you think you could benefit from it. What would you need to consider if you were setting up a staff bank, so you could maximize those benefits?

[HARRY] Sure. So I'd say there's a few core elements to consider when doing it. It's often considered a painful process, but it needn't be, it really needn't be.

I think firstly, it's understanding how your network of practices or indeed providers will use it. So is it something that they can easily tap into? Who's going to take ownership of it? And how will that look and feel for those that are both working to access the bank but also those working in the bank?

I think often they are a great thought in principle, but operationally when it comes to the ground level, they often fail because there's no clear ownership of the initiatives. So who is leading on it? Who is managing it from the provider side?

Secondly, governance is a crucial part of it. What levels of clinical compliance would you need to have across the bank? And how do you set and manage those standards? 

Depending on how you do this, it can also be used to enable this idea of digital passports for the ease of working across multiple organisational boundaries which enables far more effective sharing of resource that also meets that CQC standard that's obviously very key.

It's also important to take into account how it will look and feel for those working in the bank, as I said. What benefits does that offer? How will they find out about the sessions that are available? How are they accessing it?

So is it something that is going to be sent in an email form, or is it something that I can use an app to find? How do you cater for both sides, with the newly qualified GPs at one end of the spectrum, and the post-retirement/ pre-retirement age of GPs? How do you cater for both audiences?

How do you offer up CPD, which is obviously a crucial part of the role for many of the newly qualifieds? How do they have access to that, which previously being a locum it's been quite hard to tap into CPD and know where you can go to access that.

But I think [a staff bank] does offer a very flexible work environment for all concerned, and particularly in the times we're faced with right now, making changes to the way in which people can work is going to be very crucial for retaining staff across the NHS. 

[HARRIET] If someone wanted to set up a staff bank, how would they get in touch with you?

[HARRY] Absolutely, so they can get in touch with me. My email will be, I'm sure, attached to this, but it's just harry@lantum.com. We also have an enquiries line that you can contact, which we'll provide the details of, but effectively it's a discussion, and essentially more of a consultative approach to this. We want to discuss each individual's needs. 

There are many different parts of the country that are facing very different pressures when it comes to setting up these sorts of banks. Obviously more densely populated areas have a different approach than slightly more remote parts of the country.

So it's very simple process, but it's understanding what are the needs and what is the local demographic and what's going on on the ground level, to understand how we might best set something like this up.

But my details will follow and I welcome a conversation to go into more detail on how we can help and what that might look like for you.

[HARRIET] Nice, thanks Harry. And if you want to see some real life examples of organisations that have set up their own staff banks, you can find a few case studies on info.lantum.com/staffbanks. Thanks very much for listening. We hope this has been useful.

[HARRY] Thank you.



To learn more about staff banks, visit info.lantum.com/staffbanks, or book a consultation now.

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Lantum is a workforce platform that uses technology to simplify all aspects of healthcare staffing.

Our easy-to-use tools empower healthcare organisations to fill their shifts and professionals to fill their diaries, without the need for agencies. And they dramatically reduce time spent on rostering admin, compliance, and invoice chasing.

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