Medway NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) provides a wide range of hospital-based services across Medway and Swale. As one of four Trusts in the southeast of England, it’s services are vital to the community and every year delivers care to near enough half a million patients.
In order to continue providing quality patient care across the board, the Trust employs around 4,400 staff who work steadily to meet increasing demand. So much so that the Trust came out of special measures just over a year ago and shortly following this milestone, delivered a two-year Workforce strategy which set out an agenda of transformational working.
Aligning the workforce
The plan set out a clear vision and an agile approach in which MFT’s HR function was an integral component. Not only contributing operationally but also harnessing HR evidence and best practice to strategically elevate the Trust’s overall performance.
With this in mind, a new Employee Relations (ER) strategy was implemented which included structural changes, the formation of a new ER team and the introduction of new systems and processes. This level of change was brought about to align with organisational objectives, support the effective management of staff and ultimately meet service demands for the benefit of the patients.
Using technology to drive improvements
In order to improve data quality, equip staff with the right tools, and systematically manage ER casework, MFT invested in ER Tracker. The cloud-based system allows the team to categorise HR cases, track progress, provide consistent responses across the team and most importantly meet deadlines.
Leon Hinton, Director of Operational HR at MFT explains that in light of the Trust’s new strategy: ‘It was very important for the HR department to increase its visibility in the organisation, improve the way it managed ER caseloads and meet compliance policies.”
As such, Allocate’s experience in the healthcare sector allowed MFT to understand the precise needs of the HR department and the software’s flexibility meant that the system could be tailored to meet those core principles.
“With built in timelines the software makes it easier to monitor and follow the progress of cases. ER Tracker also helps the team to meet deadlines, as the system automatically sends email reminders on case progress and alerts us to upcoming due dates. Our policy is to resolve disciplinary enquires within three weeks and the functionality of ER Tracker means the whole department is now meeting their operational performance targets.
ER Tracker also allows us to store all case documents and notes centrally. This means there is more transparency, which is of particular benefit when members of the HR department are absent. As another case handler can easily pick-up where someone else has left off – making sure we avoid delays occurring.”
In addition to increasing transparency, the Trust has also been able to easily provide information and meet Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. Previously scattered pieces of information and disparate spreadsheets made this a challenging task for the HR department. However, since using ER Tracker the team has found it much simpler and the built-in reporting function has made compiling relevant data much more straightforward.
“Overall the team is now able to meet KPI’s, analyse equality and inclusion information and succinctly gather data in relation to Freedom of Information requests. ER Tracker is also helping managers to distribute the workload between team members, not only in terms of case numbers but also complexity. This has increased efficiency and raised the profile of the department within the organisation,” Leon adds.
Compared to last year, the HR department is now meeting all of its targets which has improved aspects such as compliance tremendously. The Trust has seen a 40 per cent increase in the number of disciplinary reports completed in three weeks. As well as a 43 per cent increase in the investigations completed within six weeks, allowing the department to run more efficiently to the benefit of both the staff and ultimately the patients.
- The HR department is completing all investigations within six weeks – a 43% improvement compared to 2016/2017
- Hearings are now held within three weeks of each report – a 100% improvement on last year
- All disciplinary reports are now completed within three weeks
- Decreased absence rate by 0.22%