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University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust has 11,500 staff treating around 150,000 inpatients and day patients each year, including about 50,000 emergency admissions and seeing more than 624,000 people at outpatient appointments.

In August 2014, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust chose Allocate StaffDirect to help the organisation deliver financial savings when booking agency staff whilst supporting the heavy lifting of admin. Through the solution, trusts pay the temporary workers directly helping the organisation to maintain a relationship with the locums themselves.

Operational Review Reveals 45% Direct Engagement Compliance

Day-to-day Insights accessible by the RLDatix/Allocate team revealed a potential opportunity for the trust to increase their financial savings through Allocate StaffDirect. It was recommended that an operational review of the trust’s direct engagement processes was conducted to see what could be done to deliver improved outcomes.

The review, taken in December 2020, looked specifically at the way in which the trust engaged and managed their agency staffing, including the use of the Allocate StaffDirect solution.

Results identified that the solution had not been used to it’s full extent and whilst some functionality had been explored, the trust had not fully moved over to a direct engagement model. At this point, the trust had only 45% of their staff through direct engagement.

Launching a Support Team

To help the temporary staffing team in their transition to a direct engagement model and therefore increase their potential financial savings, RLDatix/Allocate structured a dedicated support team who took on the role of implementing the Allocate StaffDirect booking system from January 2021 to help improve visibility and control.

The Support Team’s aim was to demonstrate the financial opportunities available to the trust through the solution and it was done through weekly reports which highlighted agency behaviour and what was increasing administrative tasks.

Angela Morcumb is Temporary Resourcing Manager at the Trust. She says: “The management information that we get from Allocate StaffDirect is really clear. There is information available that we hadn’t known was there, such as savings reports and timesheet records. This helps us to manage the agencies we work with. For example, we can see how quickly they submit their timesheets, and it can rank them in terms of performance, providing a competitive edge. We can then produce this information when we are in conversation with them during contract meetings to help evaluate their performance.”

Overcoming the Barriers with Locum & Agency Acceptance

The biggest challenge to implementing the move to direct engagement was persuading the doctors and agencies themselves to use the new way of working. For doctors, the challenge facing the team was that being paid directly, sometimes meant dealing with a number of different invoices from separate hospitals. Despite some initial reluctance from doctors to move to the new model, the team remained consistent in its approach, insisting that all temporary staff should be employed through direct engagement, cascading the message to departments and agencies.

Sarka Svatosova is Temporary Resourcing Lead for Doctors, AHPs, Science, Support, Admin and Clerical. She says: “We worked with the departments who requested the doctors, encouraging them to use the direct engagement model. We also challenged the agencies, advising them that we would look elsewhere if they did not go through direct engagement. At the beginning there were a few challenging weeks while we went elsewhere to source staff but that soon settled.”

As for agencies, RLDatix/Allocate supported the team and helped transition a smooth move to the new direct engagement model. Angela says: “Allocate were very helpful. They would join meetings with us and the agencies to explain the system and Hannah Brooks (Allocate StaffDirect Customer Representative) even had some meetings with the agencies on our behalf. They also helped us to draft the letters that we sent out.”

80% Uplift In Agency Staffing Savings

After a 6-month support programme through RLDatix/Allocate, the number of workers on direct engagement has risen from 45% to 82%.
This growth in engagement has lead to an increase in agency staffing savings by £216,706.

2020 Agency Staffing Savings – £270,844
2021 Agency Staffing Savings – £487,550
Difference +£216,706

The table below clearly shows the financial benefits of using direct engagement, both by comparing the year between March 2020 and 2021, and also by highlighting the figures for January 2020, when there was a spike in costs due to staff needs with the onset of the pandemic.

Savings vs lost opportunity since January 2020

Date Savings Lost Opportunity
January 2020 £10,112.62 £33,392.13
March 2020 £19,362.53 £33,090.00
March 2021 £30,283.47 £13,121.47
July 2022 £46,302.75 £11,838.32

StaffDirect has given the team improved control over an area which can have a significant financial impact for any trust and is often the first place where senior management look when savings need to be made.

Whilst the trust uses relatively few agency staff at present, Angela says “If the need for temporary staff increased dramatically for some reason, the system offers scope to expand as and when required.”

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