A digital initiative which will change the way NHS temporary staffing is run is to be launched across the north west.

Led by St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the project will see the creation of a North West Doctors in Training Collaborative Staff Bank.

The new bank, which went live in early November 2020, will enable up to 35 trusts in the region to reduce reliance on agencies and instead broadcast shifts to the more than 5,000 clinical trainees already working within the North West’s network of hospitals. These clinicians will be able to e-passport their credentials between participating trusts, enabling staff to be rapidly redeployed in line with need.

Fully digitised, shifts will be broadcast and booked via the Patchwork Health app – a platform designed by NHS clinicians. A similar project was launched in London with technology from Patchwork used to create a London Covid staff bank.

Claire Scrafton, deputy director of HR at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The impact of implementing this new digital, collaborative system will not only support our host trust colleagues in achieving greater fill rates, but will also work to reduce the regional reliance on agencies, enabling us to support our collective pool of skilled clinical trainees as they embrace the digitisation of bank shift management.”

Acting as a secondary bank for participating hospitals, the Doctors in Training Collaborative Staff Bank will allow trust to broadcast shifts they’ve been unable to fill through their own primary hospital bank.

A main benefit is reducing spend on external locum agencies and minimise the administrative burden for NHS teams and clinicians.

Other benefits include ensuring junior doctors booking shifts outside their host trust can have their credentials, pay, annual leave entitlements, and hours worked handled through a centralised system

Dr Anas Nader, chief executive at Patchwork Health, added: “Digitising temporary staffing brings huge benefits for clinicians and trusts alike. During the Covid-19 crisis, we also saw the impact e-passporting and regional banks can have when staffing pressures are at their highest. This new system will strengthen the region’s ability to respond rapidly and effectively to any future crises.”