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As we have done in previous years, this March we’ll be attending the Ambulance Leadership Forum (ALF) to share workforce planning and management insight with senior contacts in the industry. 

Having closely supported Ambulance Trusts over the years, it struck us that many of the topics in this year’s packed agenda are intrinsically linked to how working time is organised.

Rosters, rotas, shifts…call them what you will; but resourcing patterns have the potential to influence many of the issues under discussion.

Responding to changes like ARP:

On day one of the ALF, Craig Harman (General Manager, London Ambulance Service) and Mike Boyne (Operations Support, AACE) will lead a session looking at ‘Supporting Early Implementation of ARP’.

The Ambulance Response Programme (ARP) has been a clear driver for the recent roster reviews Working Time Solutions has supported. The effect it has had on demand profiles is considerable, meaning rosters need to be re-calibrated to align with new requirements.

This is also likely to be the scenario Ambulance Services face with other future changes to statutory obligations. Trusts are keen to put themselves in a position whereby resourcing patterns can quickly evolve and respond to external and internal factors, without the need for frequent major roster reviews.

This means that objectives can be met by constantly adapting rosters in line with demand and with the support of a fully-engaged and change-ready workforce.

Operational productivity:

The first day of the event will also see a session led by Luke Edwards (Director for Sector Development, NHS Improvement), who will be looking at ‘Operational Productivity and the Ambulance Sector’.

Improving productivity naturally requires Trusts to explore how efficiencies can be generated without compromising standards of care and employee wellbeing.

Whilst paramedic shortages remain a challenge, ensuring the existing workforce is fully optimised is key to achieving this balance.

Our work with London Ambulance Service was able to release 3,000 more hours from the same core workforce, dramatically reducing reliance on expensive and voluntary overtime and private ambulance cover.

Likewise, with South Western Ambulance Service, the Trust’s recent roster review ensured more crews are available to respond to emergency calls. This has reduced ‘double sends’ and lowered peak period ‘job stacks’ by 60%.

Analysis shows the reduction in overruns also has the potential to generate significant savings within overrun budgets across the Trust’s c.2,500 front-line employees.

Workforce welfare:

Across the two days of the ALF there will be various sessions from HR specialists, experts in fatigue and unions exploring issues relating to the health, wellbeing and work-life balance of employees.

The hours paramedics work influences every aspect of their lives. Aligning rosters to demand presents a significant opportunity to tackle some of the issues around overworking and stress created by high utilisation rates and unpredictable finish times.

Using the right approach and software, individuals’ needs can also be factored in at roster design stage, without adding complexity or compromising cover and service-levels.

Demonstrating a commitment to ensuring a fair and equitable approach to supporting work-life balance can also play a major role in a Trust’s wider recruitment and retention strategy.

Collaborative working, engagement and communication:

Across the two days there are sessions with Mick Gumley ‘Sharing Lessons from Collaborative Working’ and Nigel Risner ‘Communicating and Leading in the Human Zoo’, which emphasise the importance of ensuring employees understand the context of change and are given a chance to influence it.

Employee relations can be seriously damaged if changes to rosters are imposed.

Transparency, communication, engagement and collaboration are central, not only to building trust and understanding, but ensuring employees provide valuable input into shaping the patterns that they will ultimately work.

In all projects, we look to provide specialist support and technology in this area so that the rationale for change is well understood, challenges are aired, and solutions are shaped and owned by both the Trust and its employees.

Ultimately, rosters that have been co-designed in collaboration with employees are far more likely to deliver the maximum benefits for patients, colleagues and your Trust.

See you there.

We’re keen to ensure best practice is shared so, if you are interested in finding out more you can register your interest in attending our Emergency Services Roster Review Seminar on 27/06/2018 here.

If the matter is pressing, you can confidentially discuss your resourcing patterns with our highly experienced team at a Roster Review Clinic. This is a free 1-2-1 consultation where our specialist consultants can provide initial insight and guidance on a range of issues.

We also have a number of relevant case studies on our website that you might find interesting:

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