Emergency services: Rosters that support performance, budgets and work-life balance

We are proud to have recently helped South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) complete a successful roster review that will help support employee work-life balance as well as improve patient care and potentially generate significant savings within overrun budgets. 

A national shortage of paramedics and budget pressures are clearly having a negative effect on the health and wellbeing of front-line employees as resource shortfalls place greater pressure on those responsible for delivering the service.

This is highlighted by new research revealing one in eight (12 per cent) of paramedics and ambulance healthcare assistants were off ill with stress or anxiety last year, collectively taking more than 80,000 sick days.

With these finance and personnel challenges in mind, fully optimising rosters is essential.

At SWASFT, the new rosters have created more predictable finish times for front-line staff by cutting overruns by an average of 25 minutes where they occur.

In addition, as more crews are available to respond to emergency calls under the new rosters, utilisation rates while on shift have been reduced to more manageable levels, helping limit overworking and stress.

Click here to learn more about how SWASFT, drawing on our workforce planning and management expertise and software, have ensured resources are better aligned to changes in demand created by the new national performance standards ‘Ambulance Response Programme’ (ARP).

Using our WORK Suite® software, specialist consultancy and employee engagement methodology, we completed an in-depth analysis of demand-data for the whole trust (4,000 staff across 96 stations, and three divisions).

Following this, we helped SWASFT create new demand-led rosters which meet the hour-of-day, day-of-week demand profile, by station and by vehicle type.

Robert Crossman, Director of Working Time Solutions, said: “Given the challenges posed by major roster reviews, it was absolutely vital that employees were placed at the heart of the process.

By engaging them around the need for change, the impact on them personally and the options that were available, we ensured they were able to directly influence and enhance the process.

“Using software to facilitate co-design, employees could visualise the demand requirements and used their experience and insight to help create solutions that deliver benefits for all stakeholders.”

In partnership with Working Time Solutions, SWASFT has been able to successfully deliver the ARP trial and establish a new approach to roster design, implementation and maintenance.

The project delivered against its core objectives, including:

  • Improving patient care: The rosters have enabled capacity and demand to be balanced and better alignment of skill groups with the type and location of care required.   
  • Improving performance: The rosters have ensured more crews are available to respond to emergency calls which has improved response times. 
  • Improving employee wellbeing: The rosters have improved work-life balance by providing more predictable finish times, reducing utilisation rates and establishing a more equitable use of relief planning.

Neil Le Chevalier, Director of Operations at SWASFT, said: “This project demonstrates our commitment to delivering the highest standards of patient care efficiently and supporting the wellbeing of our highly valued employees.

“We are now able to adapt and refine our working patterns in line with demand, ensuring major changes like ARP can be managed effectively.

“Working Time Solutions was central to the success of the roster review. They worked seamlessly with our HR and Operations teams, providing the software tools and knowledge we need to optimise our rosters now and in the future.”

If you are interested in learning more about how your organisation could benefit from reviewing its rosters then join us at our Workforce Planning Masterclass.

This event will give you detailed insight into the fundamentals of Working Time and how to design, implement and manage optimised and compliant shift patterns.

Alternatively, you can contact us directly and arrange a free one-to-one consultation with one of our experts.  </

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