Software that enables employers to send text messages to temporary staff needed for shifts has been launched by SkillsFlow.

The development is recent addition of the company’s SkillsBid module which is designed to help organisations manage temporary and shift vacancies, offering work directly to bank staff and to competing agencies.The overall aim is to help organisations with a high requirement for temporary shift work, such as NHS trusts, to increase the percentage of bank staff used and reduce reliance on more costly agency staff.

The company says,”A typical trust may have to fill between 5,000 and 10,000 shifts a month, many at short notice. The use of nursing agencies to fill shifts multiplies the cost per shift by as much as eight times the cost of a nurse employed directly. “

SkillsFlow says that sending text messages offers a “one-to-many” facility that speeds up the process of filling shifts and cuts phone costs, especially calls to mobile phones. Depending on the tariffs used by an employer, a text message costs 2-4p.

SkillsBid is currently used by private healthcare providers and the company is in discussions with a number of NHS trusts.

Other innovations in the SkillsBid suite are a Skills Asset Module, which provides a structured database for bank and agency staff records and analysis, and a Time Recording Module which enables payment demands to be reconciled with bookings and authorised time sheets, all within the same system.

"This alone can represent a giant leap in internal cost control and expenditure authorisations for many trusts struggling to reconcile costs incurred with NHS Professionals or multiple agencies," say SkillsFlow.