Ahmed Shahrabani, Co-Founder, Locum’s Nest
Five years ago, on the medical wards of St Helier Hospital in South London each week played out like clockwork. Come Friday, the rota manager would come down to the wards and ask me, Nick, Paddy and the rest of the doctors on the wards if they minded picking up an extra shift over the weekend because of a rota gap. We were fresh out of medical school and at that time didn’t feel comfortable taking on extra work (for however much money!), our poor colleagues would then need to resort to a barrage of phone calls, emails, texts and bleeps, begging doctors from the hospital to cover the weekend shift. If the answer was no they would resort to locum/recruitment agencies, a very expensive process in time and in money.
The solution was simple. Nick, the other Co-Founder and I spent the next year developing a mobile platform which provided doctors with the autonomy and flexibly to choose when they worked additional shifts, all at the palm of their hands. The solution established itself in two components:
- A free-to-download mobile app where doctors uploads their credentials in their Digital Passport, a secure space on the app for doctors to save all their employment paperwork, allowing them to work across multiple NHS Trusts without having to re-do any HR checks multiple times. The Digital Passport also allows direct messaging between the employer and the candidate all done through the platform in a simple, auditable manner.
Once doctors complete their Digital Passport, they choose which specialty, grade and area they wish to work in, and the app would show them bespoke shifts that 100% match their preferences.
- A web platform for hospitals and clinics, which gives them real-time oversight of their organisation, where the gaps are and therefore where doctors are needed. Hundreds of shifts can be advertised in minutes to a rapidly growing community of doctors to help ensure their wards/clinics are safely staffed with qualified and reliable staff.
We launched in our first hospital 3 years ago with only 5 doctors on the app and are now working with over 20,000 registered doctors and hundreds of hospitals and clinics across England and Northern Ireland. To-date, the platform has saved the NHS 70m Euros and has provided 1.5m hours of patient care which has translated to over half a million operations and nine million clinic appointments.
The staff on the frontline have reaped the benefits, as Dr Justin Kirk-Bayley, Consultant Intensivist and Anaesthetist, said: “Junior doctors like Locum’s Nest, there’s no doubt about it. You know that, when you have somebody who’s coming to fill a vacancy and they’ve used Locum’s Nest, they’re there because they want to be there. They’ve picked the job they want; on the day they want it and in the location they want. This means that we get great interaction with our doctors when they come and work with us and everyone has a much better experience, which is a better overall experience for the patients.”
We all appreciate we live in a world where we have an ever-growing shortage of doctors which has led to increased waiting times, delayed diagnoses of serious illness and ultimately poorer patient outcomes and belief in the health service. We are hemorrhaging money on locum costs, so the answer isn’t simply to throw more money at the problem and hope for the best, but instead, be clever with what we’ve got. Use our allies in the form of technology to create a healthcare ecosystem with absolute workforce mobility for our staff.
We believe we can save the UK and Ireland 1bn Euros in spend by 2022, and improve patient safety on the way.