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With the publication of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan in June 2023, capacity and productivity has been a key topic within workforce planning across the NHS. Rose Hagreen (Head of eRostering, Non-Medical Workforce) joined us at People Summit Europe 2023 to share insight into the Clinical Placement Expansion Project at Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, focussed on increasing the productivity of Student Nurse placements across their organisation. Currently taking place across 4 clinical areas as a pilot for the project, the Trust has already seen a 30.43% increase in Student Capacity, meeting and exceeding the project’s original target increase of 20%, by assigning student capacity to placements on a ‘per-shift’ rather than ‘per-placement’ basis. Throughout the session, Rose shared the journey so far, the steps taken throughout the project, and insight into its impact and feedback. She shared key takeaways and considerations that have led to the project’s success, hinging around the key points below.


1. Liaise with Educational Bodies to adapt student placement approaches

The team at Calderdale and Huddersfield were successful in a bid to recruit a Band 6 Clinical Educator to establish and assign student capacity to placements on a ‘per-shift’ rather than ‘per placement’ basis, with the aim of increasing student capacity.

This project was started in light of the pledged additional £15m in funding from Health Education England, to support and encourage the anticipated growth in student numbers for the academic year 2021/2022. Working together with HEE, substantive teams at the organisation, and incoming students, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust have seen a positive change in the utilisation of student placements for both the organisation and the students themselves.

The Trust also included provision in their forward-planning of additional training to increase the number of practice assessors and supervisors in pilot clinical areas. This allows the organisation to accommodate the increased number of learners and ensure a valuable placement experience for all.


2. Encourage and facilitate Effective Engagement with rosters

Before starting their placement at Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, students are encouraged to download the employee app and get to grips with it, with specialist support available from the team to ensure they’re able to log on and use the app. This allows them easy access to their roster, to understand how to request leave and edit shifts, and even to see the names of their supervisor(s) and assessor(s) before beginning the placement. This led to increased, more effective engagement with student rosters and allocated shifts throughout the placements, as well as improved reporting of sickness, annual leave and absences across the Trust.
The team also set up student-specific notifications within Allocate Optima, to aid better communication between students and the organisation. This clear reporting is used regularly in the placement interviews. The organisation’s Project Team also set up regular weekly touchpoint meetings and update opportunities with organisational stakeholders, university representatives, and students themselves, to encourage clear communication throughout.


3. Share clear expectations for shift provision with students and organisation

To encourage engagement with both the rosters and the project itself, the team made sure to clearly communicate expectations and parameters with both the students and the organisation. The Trust’s Roster Principles, and University Guidance to Practice Hours advice are both applied consistently to student shift allocation, ensuring that students and team both understand the expectations.

Students are also receiving their shift patterns approximately 4-6 weeks ahead of their placement start so they have oversight of what to expect throughout the placement. To maintain consistency for both the organisation and incoming students, the shift allocation for students is centralised within the eRostering team. This also allows the team to stay consistent and aligned with project objectives.


4. Utilise the rostering solution to better understand the capacity available.

Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust use Allocate Optima to manage their workforce rostering. As part of the Clinical Placement Expansion Project, the team adjusted their use of Allocate Optima (previously HealthRoster) to better support the new placement allocation patterns.

In project pilot areas, students are now added to the roster as substantive staff, with clear identification attached to each worker and shift, to ensure the roster is easy to digest and understand. Students on the roster are supernumerary so that they do not affect the necessary workforce numbers (CHPPD), as they are not considered part of the workforce model for service delivery.
Enhancing Allocate Optima configuration to support the addition of placements to the everyday, substantive roster was pivotal to this project’s success. The number of placement hours recorded on the roster increased by 8.36% throughout the project, increasing the visibility and available evidence of missed hours and hours worked, and ensuring clear governance of shifts worked, and completed placement hours.

This project also captured 784 hours of student sickness on the roster, an increase of over 200% (from 216.5) from pre-pilot student sickness absences captured on the roster. This allowed the teams to better understand which wards and locations needed more support, and to identify trends in sickness and absence, allowing them to better support their teams.


5. Utilise student capacity to support 24/7 care delivery

Traditionally, student placement hours are assigned favouring weekday, daytime hours. As part of the project at Calderdale & Huddersfield, student shifts were allocated across the 24/7 period to ensure both variety in the placement, and effective rostering and staff provision for the organisation.

Pre-pilot hours reports showed 93.95% of placement hours worked on days vs 6.05% on nights. Following Phase 1 of the project, the split became much more even, with 60.62% of placement hours worked on days vs 20.56% worked on nights. The team also saw a shift in the days placement hours were worked, from 90.08% (Monday – Friday) and 9.02% (Saturday & Sunday) to 79.55% (Monday – Friday) and 19.45% Saturday & Sunday).

Maximising the 24/7 period for student placements also enables them to gain experience of ‘real-world’ working, setting clear expectations for the ‘Workforce of the Future’. By being involved in the complete 24/7 period of work, students also feel included and valued within the ward team.

In order to support this increased student capacity, and to ensure effective supervision and successful placements for each student, the Trust implemented a variety of initiatives.
A critical enabler to the success of the project was the increase in the number of practice assessors and supervisors available to support students throughout their placement. Allocating placement shifts across the 24/7 period also ensured that time was available for the supervisor(s) and assessor(s) to provide an effective placement experience for students, with a more even distribution of students across shifts. Adding student shifts to Allocate Optima also allowed teams to clearly see the best opportunities for students to shadow supervisors and assessors, accurately assigning students to support the best placement experience.


To find out more about RLDatix’ Allocate Solutions to support your workforce, visit our Allocate Optima page.


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