The new NHS Head of Flexible Working isn’t there because of millennials, it’s a crucial step in tackling the NHS staffing crisis

As we head into our next decade, we are excited to see the effects of the new NHS ‘Head of Flexible Working’ appointment, recently announced as 2019 came to a close. The new role will aim to respond to the rising tide of staff leaving the profession in search of better work-life balance. The new flexible working lead – Jane Galloway, who joins from the NHS London Leadership Academy – has a tough but critically important job on her hands.

Some news reports of this crucial appointment however rather flippantly claimed that millennial medics who aren’t prepared to match the work ethic of their predecessors are the reason such flexible policies must now be driven forward. But this is a simplistic response to a complex problem that has been years in the making.

Flexible working isn’t sought after by a group of work-shy junior doctors who fancy the luxury of a four-day working week. It’s desperately needed by healthcare workers of all ranks who are exhausted to the point of burn out. For many of them, flexible working would be a way to maintain the careers they love whilst staying physically and mentally healthy; and undoubtedly improving the patient experience.

We all know that our NHS staff are coping with unprecedented levels of demand against a backdrop of squeezed budgets and creaking infrastructure. In such circumstances and despite the best efforts of many NHS Trusts, it’s no wonder that the number of staff leaving the profession for good has tripled in recent years. Nor that the number of junior doctors taking a temporary or permanent break from full-time practice after their F2 year has tipped over the 50% mark for the first time. Tough hours, unrelenting demand, and gaps in the rota combine to create conditions that can push the most dedicated of clinicians to the brink.

That’s why we mustn’t dismiss the new seriousness with which flexible working is rightfully being taken by the NHS. This appointment isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to ‘snowflake’ demands, but a crucial step in the mission to tackle the NHS staffing crisis.

We must applaud the NHS for making this appointment, thereby validating and elevating calls for a more flexible approach to work. As the working world around us has evolved, the NHS has been surviving on practices rapidly approaching their sell-by date. This has thus far pushed clinicians into a binary choice of full-time contract versus locum work: the former often bad for the health of individuals; the latter a strain on NHS finances. As the impact of these realities has become increasingly acute, so too have calls for a fresh way of thinking.

As we look to a new decade, we must acknowledge that time is running out to reverse the current trends in staff retention. As the new Head of Flexible Working takes up this much-needed role, Trusts, managers and clinicians must work together and ensure their first-hand understanding of the situation is acknowledged. We must all collaborate and work in partnership to implement meaningful, innovative solutions to this crisis; putting an end, once and for all, to those leaving our NHS for good. Here’s to transforming flexible working.

Patchwork in 2019. Reflecting on an exciting year of meaningful partnerships 

With Christmas fast approaching and a new decade on the horizon, the urge to reflect on the previous 12 months seems as inevitable as the proliferation of mince pies in the office kitchen. And whilst I generally try to avoid falling into festive tropes, 2019 was such an important year for what we’re building here at Patchwork that it feels remiss to pass up the opportunity to take stock of how far we’ve come since January. 

Our mission at Patchwork has always been clear: bring flexible working to healthcare organisations in a way that truly works for them and their clinicians. This year, we’ve been privileged to partner with ten new healthcare organisations across the UK to make this vision a reality. I say partner specifically because these are true partnerships. We are not a software tool that is purchased, parachuted in and then left for teams to grapple with. We work closely with healthcare organisations to understand their specific challenges, then tailor our product to address them. All whilst bringing our own experience as a team of healthcare workers. Without this level of collaboration and grassroots insights, technology will fail to make a true impact. It’s a privilege, therefore, to now be partnered with a total of 16 organisations, across over 30 sites, and manage over one million hours of flexible bank shifts a year – all to transform staff banks in a sustainable, impactful and nuanced way.  

This year has also seen us make huge strides with the Patchwork offering. Our engineers and data specialists continue to work tirelessly to improve our platform, introducing new services, and ensuring we’re hedging against future challenges so our healthcare partners don’t have to. 2019 has seen the release of Patchwork Insights, a powerful tool for organisations looking to unlock the power of their staffing data. We’ve also partnered with leading e-rostering systems, ensuring our software is interoperable with all major workforce systems. And we’ve continually added features and released updates to our product to help our partners save time, money, and aggravation so commonly associated with healthcare staffing. We were also delighted to join the 2020 cohort of Digital Health.London’s Accelerator, a brilliant programme speeding up the adoption of digital health innovations in the NHS. 

2019 has also seen the exciting transformation of our team and our movement into a new home to be part of the vibrant innovation scene within London’s Old Street. We’ve grown from a team of 14 to a mighty 36; creating a cohort of passionate, committed individuals who my co-founder Jing and I are so proud to call colleagues. From software engineers to customer success and implementation specialists, we know that investing in our team is the only way to create the impact we are striving for. 

And we’ve been delighted to share such a year of successes with our expanding team, including winning two awards at the prestigious HSJ Partnership Awards with our partners Chelsea & Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust, and two North Excellence in Supply Awards with our partners Aintree University Hospital.  

The time-critical staffing challenges facing the NHS are well publicised within national media.  But with increasing encouragement and the latest endorsements around flexible working, we are thrilled to see the blossoming of change. 

We’re so hugely proud to call ourselves leaders in this flexible working transformation, and are excited for the new partnerships we’ll announce in 2020. Here’s to an exciting next decade, where we must work together, to finally bring temporary staffing into the modern age, and create safe and sustainable environments for our staff and patients. 

Together, let’s transform flexible working in healthcare.

Patchwork reveals new product: Patchwork Insights

Patchwork is dedicated to improving temporary staffing through technology-enabled solutions. We are constantly seeking to improve the Patchwork experience and are therefore extremely excited to announce the release of Patchwork Insights

Patchwork Insights centralises and makes sense of organisations’ mass of temporary staffing data. The platform offers real-time insights and intuitive reporting; unlocking data-driven decision making.

What can it do?

  • Financial dashboards help organisations to keep better track of actual and forecast outgoings for temporary staffing as well as the likelihood of meeting targets
  • Temporary staffing performance indicators allow managers to quickly assess potential ward cover issues and monitor adherence to recruitment targets and NHSI standards
  • Collaborative dashboards allow Patchwork partner organisation to power their collaborative staff banks via a virtual ‘command and control centre’ to best manage resources and overall performance 

How does it work?

Patchwork Insights draws data directly from Patchwork’s temporary staffing solution to give up-to-date management information tailored to each user’s unique requirements. Users can view data to compare and contrast performance across the organisation, enabling identification and monitoring of best practice. 

Patchwork’s Customer Success Analytics Team also monitor your insights to provide ongoing, tailored recommendations. 

Here are two examples of Patchwork Insights in action:

Trust A (a large multi-site acute Trust) 

Trust A’s overall medical spend had become unmanageable. Through the use of Patchwork Insights, the Trust quickly identified an extremely high reliance on incumbent agency staff within the haematology department. Patchwork worked with the Trust to rectify the issue with targeted recruitment campaigns (using partners at the British Medical Journal) to grow the staff bank with specialist haematology staff and supports with converting the long term agency staff to bank. The Trust has since been able to dramatically reduce the use of premium agency staff.

Trust B

Trust B has spent over £400k bringing in additional resources to cover shifts which have been left vacant due to doctors booking annual leave. However, as part of the Junior Doctor contract, annual leave should be built into their existing rotas. This means that doctors within the department should be swapping shifts to ensure adequate cover, rather than outsourcing to temporary staff. Highlighting this within Patchwork Insights has allowed the Trust to focus improvement efforts in the departments where it is needed most. This, in turn, is helping to refine rostering practices and avoid the need for temporary staff and the associated costs.


Unlock the power of your data and revolutionise your temporary staffing processes with Patchwork Insights.

To celebrate the launch of Patchwork Insights, we are offering all organisations a one-off complimentary bank health check with our analytics and transformation team. If this is of interest, please get in contact with our team to discuss the details using the details below.

[email protected]

020 39831470

Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust partners with Patchwork to modernise staffing

Press Release, as featured in Health Tech News and Digital Health News.

Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust has partnered with technology company Patchwork to roll-out a new clinical staffing solution for their medical workforce. The technology, created by a team of NHS clinicians, is set to increase bank fill rates, reduce staffing costs and help streamline administrative processes.

Patchwork is an award winning solution that instantly connects clinicians to vacant bank shifts through an app, enabling Trusts to reduce costly reliance on locum agencies and to offer staff better access to flexible working. 

Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust provides healthcare in hospital and the community to 258,000 people across Southport, Formby and West Lancashire. The app is currently being rolled out across two Trust sites. 

Jennifer Pennifold, Head of Resourcing at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust “Ensuring we are creating the best working environment for our clinicians is one of our top priorities. We’re therefore excited to be partnering with Patchwork to introduce a more robust and cost effective approach to temporary staffing. We’re looking forward to rolling this technology out across the Trust and working closely with Patchwork to modernise our approach to safe staffing on wards.”

“Ensuring we are creating the best working environment for our clinicians is one of our top priorities. We’re therefore excited to be partnering with Patchwork to introduce a more robust and cost effective approach to temporary staffing. We’re looking forward to rolling this technology out across the Trust and working closely with Patchwork to modernise our approach to safe staffing on wards.”

The Patchwork system automates elements of the bank shift booking process, allowing it to be streamlined. Patchwork also gives clinicians who book through the app priority over agency staff who might have put themselves forward for the same shift, meaning the most cost-effective solution is always prioritised. The overall process reduces the administrative burden for staff and clinicians, whilst enabling better financial controls for the Trust.

The platform was created by two NHS junior doctors – Dr Anas Nader and Dr Jing Ouyang – who wanted to modernise how clinicians could seek out and book temporary shifts after experiencing issues with hospital banks first hand. Their technology is already being used across 12 NHS Trusts, over 25 clinical sites, with more than 10,000 medics benefitting from the platform. Every month, Patchwork matches on average  8,000 shifts on our platform, which otherwise Trusts would be desperately working to fill.

One Trust using the platform, Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, saw between 85% and 90% of shifts filled directly through the hospital’s own staff bank as a result of the Patchwork platform, compared with 35% when using their legacy systems. This represents a cost benefit for the Trust of £1.2m+ per year.

Dr Anas Nader, NHS doctor and CEO of Patchwork Health, commented:

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust. They share our vision when it comes to improving and modernising NHS clinical staffing. We will be working closely with them to drive up bank fill rates, ensure safe staffing on wards, reduce spend on locum agencies, and offer a better work-life balance to all their clinicians. Having lived these problems first hand, we know why innovative solutions are needed to tackle some of the entrenched issues around flexible working in healthcare .”



What can the public sector learn from start-up culture?

First published on on the 10th of October, 2019 by Dr Anas Nader, NHS doctor and Founder/CEO of Patchwork.

A mini-golf course in the office. Fridges overflowing with free drinks. The incessant need to make every noun a verb.

There’s a fair amount that can be ridiculed in start-up land. However, it would be foolish to downplay the revolution occurring before our eyes. Last year a record 660,000 new companies were registered in the UK, with a 14% increase in the number of tech start-ups. And with WeWork and the co-work movement snapping up prime real estate across the UK, start-up culture is quite literally changing the map.

But it’s not just the physical landscape that’s feeling the start-up effect.

Employee benefits like unlimited holiday, working from home, and free mental health support are increasingly commonplace. Many in the start-up world realised that a company’s best resource is its people and have set out to protect this.

Promoting employees’ wellbeing is a business boon twice over: stopping talent loss to competitors and boosting individual productivity. This knowledge is now transforming every sphere in our economy.

Well, almost every sphere.

Whilst start-up influence is shifting how we do business across multiple areas, the public sector has been left behind. This comes at a time when the it is facing crisis.

Sky-high churn rates, low morale, and dwindling resources are putting staff under huge amounts of pressure. And whilst their counterparts in the private sector are taking advantage of flexible hours, work-from-home policies, and the latest software, our public servants are operating in workplaces stuck in the past.

That the public sector workforce is under strain isn’t a particularly new diagnosis.

Take NHS staff, for instance.

We’re used to seeing a regular stream of reports about doctors and nurses stretched to breaking point and numbers dropping from the payroll. This year charity the Health Foundation found that the number of personnel leaving due to poor work-life balance has almost trebled in the past seven years. While we can all agree that is a hugely worrying trend, not enough action is being taken to innovate within these workplaces and make them healthier places to be.

So, what would a start-up-inspired HR revolution of the public sector entail?

No-one is advocating for a surgeon to have access to free beers as soon as the clock hits 4pm, but one way the public sector can empower its workforce and reap the benefits is through greater attention to professional development.

Working in a start-up is fulfilling as you get to work at the coal face of a business and see your actions have a tangible effect. By contrast, the bureaucracy of the public sector can quickly lead to apathy and disillusionment.

Whilst standardised procedures are of course important in sensitive public work, this does not mean that we cannot streamline processes to free employees from superfluous paperwork or entangling procedures.

Helpful contributions
Helping individuals make contributions to their field – allowing teachers to trial new learning methods or supporting doctors to make tomorrow’s health tools – is another way to learn from start-up culture. Encouraging innovation empowers employees, whilst harnessing their first-hand experience to enact real, lasting change.

Finally, the public sector would do well to learn from start-up culture’s visible appreciation of its employees and team atmosphere.

It’s easy to stereotype this as branded T-shirts and prosecco on Wednesdays, but this culture of appreciation goes deeper. For all its flaws – which every industry have – start-ups cannot continue without a common mission, shared values and strong team relationships.

Employee appreciation and bonding are crucial in reinforcing these and this is a lesson the public sector must learn as it seeks to build a happier, healthier, more cohesive workforce. Individual departments and workplaces should consider implementing a system of employee rewards and benefits, from simple team lunches to physical recognition of great company work.

Public sector workers can often feel taken for granted and this can start to erode the passion for their institutions in which they work.

The modern workforce is evolving at a rapid pace. To ensure we turn this change into real progress, innovation must be allowed to thrive in every sector.

Start-up culture was born in the private sphere, but it would be a disservice to our brilliant public sector to contain its benefits and stymie the impact such lessons could have on the wider world of work.

As Brexit looms, the NHS desperately needs staff to stay and that means fixing burnout culture

The NHS is preparing for Brexit by stockpiling medicines – but it needs to retain staff too

Stockpiling used to evoke visions of Doomsday preppers or governments on the brink of war. But stockpiling is an idea that now sits squarely in the reality of 2019.

Our NHS, where I’ve worked as an A&E doctor for Chelsea and Westminster Trust since 2014, is hoarding supplies in case of a no-deal Brexit it was revealed last week. NHS Wales, for example, is storing £5m of medical products and food in a secret warehouse.

This news broke at the same time as the Government’s announcement of a ban on certain drug exports, something that’s needed to protect our access to key medicines in the near future. Although ministers rejected the ban’s link to Brexit, the timing seems undeniable.

If the NHS is serious about Brexit preparations, however, there’s a critical omission on its list. Hidden hangars of syringes are one thing but we seem to have forgotten about the hands who’ll wield them. As 31 October looms the NHS can’t just be protecting its provisions – it needs to start stockpiling staff.

‘Tears are not uncommon’

Brexit is placing additional pressures on every sector that relies on international workers and the NHS is no exception. Some 65,000 of NHS England’s staff are EU nationals, including almost one in ten doctors: government research found that while the percentage of EU doctors and nurses grew between 2009 and 2016, that number has fallen since the referendum.

The fact is, the NHS was already suffering from chronic staffing issues – Brexit has simply accelerated the issue. A 2018 report by the King’s Fund, the Health Foundation and the Nuffield Trust found that NHS staff shortages currently stand at over 100,000, with the figure set to reach 250,000 in just over ten years as we grapple with the demands of an ageing population.

Desperately scrabbling to fill empty rotas, NHS Trusts are increasingly forced to turn to expensive recruitment agencies for locum (temporary) workers to maintain safe staffing on hospital wards: last year Trusts were forecasting spending £5.6 billion in the 2018-19 financial year on this kind of cover alone.

There are simply not enough clinical staff to go around – and while it’s easy to become inured by headline stats, as a doctor I’ve witnessed first hand what these numbers mean in practice.

I’ve watched patients wait for hours on end because my team are rushing to a never-ending string of emergencies. I’ve seen nurses work eleven-hour shifts without a single break. Tears are not uncommon on hospital wards, and not just from the patients. Despite the sheer levels of effort contributed by our hard-working NHS teams, there simply aren’t enough of us.

Keeping staff

So how do we start amassing medics? You can’t lock the hospital doors to stop the rising number of doctors and nurses seeking better work/life balance from leaving. Yet we do need action that’s as decisive as the medicine stockpiling efforts.

For too long the wellbeing of NHS workers has taken a backseat and that’s partly why the staff shortfall developed in the first place. Burnout culture is pushing people past breaking point. This has led to appalling staff retention rates and doctors turning their backs on the profession for good.

If we want to halt this mass exodus we need to be making staff welfare a priority. With Brexit confusion and freedom of movement restrictions putting additional numbers of NHS staff in a difficult position, we literally and figuratively can’t afford to see clinicians walking out the door because of burnout too.

There are a number of ways this can be done. Evolving rotas and shift patterns so they are less punishing on staff is crucial, as is giving medics more control over their working hours – rather than a hard choice between full-time or locum work.

We must focus on empowering clinicians to work flexibly within their hospitals and the wider NHS to cut down on locum agency costs (something I’ve been working on through developing a clinical staffing, platform Patchwork, in collaboration with the NHS), and normalising flexible working practices across all levels of clinical work. Flexible working – in the way other sectors understand it – is still a pretty unheard of concept to the NHS.

Workplace revolution

Most clinicians receive their rotas 12 weeks in advance, making it very hard to plan holidays or special occasions, with opportunities to swap or rearrange nights, lates and weekend shifts almost impossible.

As NHS staff see a workplace revolution occurring in other industries – from new approaches to working hours to employee wellbeing taking on new precedence –  they are becoming all the more aware of the rigidity of the systems in which they work.

We also need to rethink the way we bring in newly qualified doctors to stop fresh graduates from burning out right at the start of their medical career. The appalling statistic is that more than half of junior doctors either temporarily or permanently put a halt to their training once they have finished their first two years in full-time practice, following graduation (known as their F1 and F2 years).

It’s an immense waste in all respects to see this loss of talent and disruption to progression.

Finally, as with any organisation, we should be integrating all levels of staff into the decision-making process so they don’t feel disempowered by a system that seems designed to push them past their limits.

Whilst Brexit is adding pressure, the NHS was already at a critical juncture when it comes to staffing. This is the moment when change must be embraced, welfare of clinicians put first, and a culture of burnout brought to a permanent end.


NHS pensions are the tip of the iceberg. How can we stop the snowballing staffing crisis?

In recent weeks, the NHS offered extra money to doctors in an attempt to stave off the current pensions crisis. New tax rules mean doctors and consultants are taxed heavily above the £110,000 threshold, including on their pension contributions. This has seen many cut back on overtime to avoid incurring the higher rates: the BMA found 42% GPs and 30% of consultants have cut their hours because of the new pensions rules. As such, doctors have been offered the chance to opt out of their NHS pension and be given the equivalent employer contribution directly from them. It’s a temporary solution to an entrenched problem and, when it comes to NHS staffing issues, it’s the tip of the iceberg.

This pension crisis is the result of a unique set of factors but it would be a grave mistake to dismiss it as an isolated flare-up. The chaos is symptomatic of deeper issues within the NHS. As the NHS and Government work to resolve its current pension problem, they are still left with the significant resource gaps created by staff resigning in their droves. Scores of clinicians are dropping from the NHS as understaffing, shrinking resources and gruelling shift patterns push them to breaking point. The number of staff quitting over long hours has tripled in six years, further exacerbating the stresses for those who remain.

Of course, these staffing gaps have a direct impact on patient care. This year the Nuffield Trust found that over half of consultants in hospitals and two-thirds of junior doctors said there were ‘frequently’ or ‘often’ gaps in hospital medical cover, which raised significant patient safety issues. We don’t just have regular winter crises to deal with – the emergency is year-round. And no organisation, in any sector, should be relying on its staff working overtime or paying dramatically over the odds for emergency cover to make ends meet.

The frustrating thing is that it doesn’t have to be this way. We’ve become accustomed to headlines detailing NHS woes, but the status quo needn’t be the hallmark of the future. There’s nothing wrong with the original vision of free care at the point of need, nor the staff who give their all to carry it out. They’re doing their best in extreme circumstances and making the most of the tools they’ve been handed.

What does need to change is our approach to delivery. As this pension case shows, waiting for a response to come from the top takes time and there’s no guarantee the solution will be effective. That’s why NHS Trusts have taken the matter into their own hands to offer cash incentives. Whilst there’s no doubt the government has a critical role to play in the future of the NHS, if we want to tackle the staff crisis we also need to work from the ground up. It’s Trusts and the clinicians they employ who have the understanding needed to guide real change. Who better to find the answer than those who wrestle with these questions every day?

There are many steps we should be taking to address the NHS staff crisis. We need to treat doctors as people, not medical robots; giving them the control over their hours and introducing the flexible working options which other sectors enjoy. Allowing grass-roots staff to have a greater say in NHS strategy will also help heal the disconnect between clinicians and management. Then there’s work to be done in reforming the burnout conditions on wards. We need a less gruelling approach to contracts and more options for F1 and F2 medics so that grad doctors don’t quit, exhausted once their second year is done. And we need to look at the systems NHS staff are using and ask ourselves whether they are fit for purpose. Making tools and processes more efficient has a direct impact on patient care as well as staff wellbeing and NHS budgets. In short, we can’t stick to the status quo. We need a new approach, and fast.

The NHS staffing crisis is multi-faceted and as such there’s not a single, catch-all solution that will instantly make it go away. Yet that doesn’t mean we have to give up hope, or that real, radical change isn’t possible. We’re seeing more and more clinicians empowered to craft the tools to help tackle it and I’m inspired by the innovation emerging in this space. If the government is serious about stopping this crisis in its tracks it needs to see doctors as the solution – not the problem.

Patchwork and Allocate team up to deliver interoperability for NHS staffing

Press Release, 19th August 2019 – Two workforce software innovators – Allocate Software and Patchwork – have announced a partnership to provide interoperability between their two solutions. Patchwork’s specialist temporary staffing technology will now integrate with Allocate’s HealthMedics rostering solution, helping healthcare providers staff their wards more effectively whilst reducing agency spend.

The collaboration offers healthcare organisations choice. Combined Patchwork and Allocate customers can access connected workforce management systems for doctors, automate a wide range of recruitment and staffing tasks, remove double-data entry, and safeguard the quality of shift bookings to ensure that safety rules are adhered to at all times. This will enable administrative teams to minimise time spent on repetitive tasks and offer a safer, more efficient experience for clinicians.

This new partnership is part of Allocate’s Connect partner programme, designed to boost the interoperability of workforce systems in the health and care sectors globally. Connect is the first of its kind to bring together technology providers to tackle this issue.

For Patchwork, this collaboration forms part of their mission to offer fit-for-purpose technologies to NHS Trusts, helping them save millions in staffing fees and enabling clinicians to access shifts in a flexible, responsive way.

Nick Wilson, CEO at Allocate Software, comments:

“Our vision is to be a platform of choice for forward-thinking, people-focused organisations. Our technology provides the backbone to enable innovation from like-minded technology companies that share our values, such as Patchwork.  Working in partnership with cutting-edge companies, we will deliver this much-needed interoperability, which is central to our goals at Allocate.

By partnering with Patchwork, we are addressing the appetite of healthcare organisations looking for choice and we look forward to the exciting results we will achieve together. Allocate Connect proactively supports calls for greater interoperability – critical to safeguarding the safety and efficiency of the healthcare sector – by creating an ecosystem of innovative technology partners that celebrate close supportable interfaces as we do.”

Tom Simons, Director of Workforce and People, Chelsea and Westminster, comments:

“I am absolutely thrilled that Allocate is partnering with Patchwork – an exciting and innovative temporary staffing solution that is revolutionising flexible working in the NHS.  The partnership is a huge step forward for Trusts who want interoperable systems and streamlined, safe staffing solutions, and we very much look forward to working with both software providers.”

Anas Nader, CEO at Patchwork comments:

“Our team at Patchwork is on a mission to revolutionise temporary staffing in healthcare.  By connecting NHS organisations directly with a growing pool of healthcare workers, we’re reducing the reliance on locum agencies and helping organisations achieve three key objectives – save money, free up time and improve patient safety.

We’re delighted to announce our partnership with Allocate, the leading rostering solution for healthcare, which will help further streamline processes for our NHS partners and amplify Patchwork’s efforts to transform what it means to truly work flexibly in the NHS.”


Further information

About Allocate Software:

Allocate Software is a leading international provider of workforce and resource planning solutions, supporting the operational and administrative needs of healthcare, defence and maritime sectors. 

In the health and care sector, Allocate is enabling the delivery of safe and effective care at optimal cost, by helping organisations to have the right people in the right place at the right time. With over 800 clients and over a million staff rostered daily, Allocate serves the largest public and private sector institutions around the world. Its Optima, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), platform including HealthRoster and HealthMedics, optimises the complex staffing requirements of large health and care organisations. Alongside automating sophisticated scheduling and ensuring accurate pay for staff that have complex pay rules, it is unique in providing additional benefits to improve the safety of staffing given changing patient needs, the management of contingent workforce, and the engagement of staff through the dedicated app. Optima is used to plan the working lives of half million staff across all workforce groups including doctors, nurses, therapists, care staff, operational staff and administrators.

Allocate Software is headquartered in the United Kingdom, with over 500 employees, including over 190 in research, development and product management functions. It provides services and support to its international customer base through regional offices in the UK, Sweden, France, Germany and Australia. 


About Patchwork

Patchwork is an award-winning solution built by doctors and HR managers, that connects NHS organisations to a growing pool of healthcare workers, reducing the reliance on locum agencies and improving the experience of flexible bank working.

Patchwork’s mission is to completely revolutionise the way temporary staffing is currently managed; helping NHS organisations save money, free up time and improve patient safety.

Firstly, Patchwork helps NHS organisations save money and gain financial control by connecting staff banks directly to healthcare workers without agencies. Secondly, Patchwork frees-up time and reduces stress by automating complex and repetitive tasks. Thirdly, Patchwork improves patient safety by increasing bank fill rates to ensure safe staffing levels with compliant workers.

Patchwork does this all via its mobile app for bank workers, and a cloud-based software for hospital managers. The solution is entirely tailored and flexible to each Trust’s unique challenges, and is implemented by Patchwork’s team of specialist temporary staffing advisors.

Patchwork is built in partnership with Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. It has been appointed as a Crown Commercial Services supplier for Flexible Resource Pool (RM6158) and is co-owned by the British Medical Journal; reaching over 72,000 doctors every week.


Patchwork named supplier on new Crown Commercial Service Staff Bank Framework

Patchwork is hugely proud to announce that after a competitive process, we have now been named a supplier on the new Crown Commercial Service Staff Bank Framework (RM6158 Flexible Resource Pool).

As the first framework agreement released in collaboration between Crown Commercial Service (CCS)* and NHS Procurement in Partnership, Patchwork’s appointment will be focusing on the provision of Staff Bank services to NHS Contracting Authorities.

This announcement comes in addition to our re-appointment on the G-Cloud 11 framework for the 2nd consecutive year – offering our NHS partners a wide range of procurement options.

We are delighted to be given the opportunity to shape a new era in healthcare staffing, in line with NHSi initiatives and the NHS People Plan.

Patchwork will continue to revolutionise flexible working in the NHS – helping NHS organisations save millions by connecting them to an increasing number of flexible bank workers, in order to grow their staff banks, reduce reliance on locum agencies, and improve the experience of flexible working.

We will continue to help save time, money and effort, so that it can be better spent on patient care.


* Crown Commercial Service supports the public sector to achieve maximum commercial value when procuring common goods and services, delivering £354 million in commercial benefits including savings for central government, and £247 million for the wider public sector in 2017/18.

To truly help the NHS, healthtech companies must collaborate

First published on on the 10th of July, 2019 by Dr Anas Nader, NHS doctor and Founder/CEO of Patchwork.

In May, NHSX announced plans to stop adding new features to their flagship NHS app. Instead, they hope to open the door to further innovation by allowing companies to ‘plug into’ and use their tech. This sets the stage for an interesting next chapter in the evolution of digital health; one marked by collaboration rather than competition.

As the number of healthtech companies have proliferated over recent years, competition between them – whether for NHS contracts or clinical attention – has intensified. A dangerous mentality thus developed; one characterised by a race to scale and a desire to beat off any and all competition. Such a philosophy might be good for the bottom line, but healthtech companies taking this stance are not prioritising the most crucial thing of all; benefit to the NHS and its patients.

The move from NHSX to position its platform as a hub for other innovators is a welcome one. Its new CEO, Matthew Gould, stated his intention to “keep the app thin and let others use the platform that we have created to come up with brilliant features on top”. This mentality will not only foster exciting innovation, but also accelerate a new trend of collaboration emerging amongst the most forward-thinking tech players.

Thanks to announcements such as this and calls from NHS Improvement for greater interoperability between systems, increasing number of digital health companies are starting to view each other as collaborators rather than competitors. We are seeing platforms integrate their services to ensure NHS teams can maximise their benefits.

As most clinicians will tell you, there is creeping (or in some cases, blatant) tech fatigue occurring across NHS wards. Clinicians are in danger of being overloaded with solutions – saturated with new tech to the point when it becomes a burden rather than a bonus. To ensure tech solutions are fit for purpose, we must ensure we stay close to the frontline of healthcare delivery and respond to the direct needs of NHS clinicians and staff. And a core part of this will be opening our minds, (and our business strategies), to partnerships and integrations.

If you provide a temporary staffing solution, ensuring you’re compatible with rostering software or training platforms already in use by that hospital is just good sense. Tech companies must make every effort to simplify processes – from log-ins to interfaces – to ensure they add value to the NHS, not invoke exasperation. If integration with other systems have clear benefits to your end users, then collaboration must be part of your product road map.

It’s inevitable that different players in the same space will continue to maintain a healthy competitiveness. But any healthtech player worth their salt, regardless of size, should put the needs of the NHS at the heart of their strategy. Those who can therefore reach across commercial divides and broker partnerships that will bring the greatest benefit to clinicians, patients and the NHS at large will be those which stand the test of time in a rapidly changing healthcare environment.