Designing new rosters for paramedics in North East Ambulance Service

Customer: North East Ambulance Service Foundation Trust (NEASFT)

Sector: Emergency Services

Summary: Designing new rosters for paramedics


North East Ambulance Service supports a population of around 2.7 million people in North East England, with its c.2,800 employees handling more than 1.4 million calls per annum.

A roster review was needed to ensure paramedics’ working patterns aligned with new requirements created by the Ambulance Response Programme, a set of standards designed to improve response times and patient care.

Working Time Solutions’ expert consultants used our WORKSuite® Pattern Design software and engaged approach to co-design shift patterns that balance forecast demand with employee preferences and a wide range of operational factors.

In addition to supporting patient care quality objectives, the new demand-led rosters are helping deliver work-life balance improvements by reducing long hours working and ensuring night shifts and weekend working is more fairly distributed across the workforce.

The shift patterns are also delivering substantial productivity improvements and cost savings by reducing underutilisation, private ambulance use and ensuring holiday cover can be provided without the need for overtime.

“Aligning shift patterns to demand is key to providing the best care to patients and supporting our front-line colleagues’ health and well-being.
“With Working Time Solutions’ software and support we can be more flexible, ensuring rosters continuously adapt in line with change.
“Their team’s professional and personable approach ensured we were able to deliver our roster review quickly and has embedded software and processes that will support us over the long term.”
Vicky Court, Deputy Chief Operating Officer at North East Ambulance Service

Read on for more detail and thoughts from Vicky

Designing new rosters for paramedics in the North East Ambulance Service

Overview: 

  • Ambulance trust serving a population of around 2.7 million over 3,230 square miles.
  • C. 2,800 employees across 55 stations, operating over 600 vehicles. 
  • NEASFT was one of five Trusts piloting the Ambulance Response Programme (ARP), a new set of standards which significantly impacted demand and operating models.
  • A roster review to modernise and optimise front line paramedic’s working patterns was required to ensure they meet the needs of patients, employees and NEAS.

Working Time Solutions' role: 

  • Demand was analysed and WORKSuite® Pattern Design software used to generate roster options that meet forecasts (by hour-of-day, day-of-week, station and vehicle type) and were compliant with Working Time Regulations, contracts and policies.
  • A programme of employee and trade union engagement was undertaken to collaboratively identify roster options that meet work-life balance aspirations.
  • Our powerful software and specialist knowledge were embedded to ensure NEASFT can continuously improve working patterns over the long-term.

Outcomes: 

  • New rosters ensure the appropriate allocation of vehicles and crews to respond to emergency calls within the timeframe targets set out under the Ambulance Response Programme.
  • Updated legacy practices and standardisation has led to productivity improvements and compliance assurance around Working Time Regulations and employment policies.
  • Rosters have reduced shift overruns, ensured a more equitable distribution of night shifts/weekend working and are better aligned to employee preferences which is supporting recruitment and retention efforts.
  • Significant annual budget savings have been delivered through reductions in underutilisation, private ambulance use and holiday cover can now be provided without the need for overtime.
  • Best practice systems and approaches have been embedded which will ensure NEASFT can adapt rosters in response to changing standards, targets and employee preferences.


ARP created a fundamental change to the way we resource and deliver services, so this needed to be reflected in our working patterns.

“It is a complex and sensitive area of operations, so we partnered with Working Time Solutions who have a track record of supporting successful roster reviews in ambulance and other emergency services.

“Their software and insight played a central role in quickly identifying which options would be efficient and effective at meeting demand.

“Through a transparent and collaborative process with employees and trade unions, we were able to collectively identify which rosters aligned best with their needs and preferences.

“The approach has been a huge success, delivering significant benefits across service performance, employee well-being and finance.

“Through ongoing knowledge transfer and access to WORKSuite® Pattern Design software, we’re in a strong position to continue adapting to change.”

Vicky Court, Deputy Chief Operating Officer at North East Ambulance Service

For more information please contact: 

Kim Dennis Head of Customer Accounts

T: +44 (0)161 720 5050 | M: +44 (0)7870 665086 | kim.dennis@workingtime-solutions.com

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