Shadow Secretary of State for Health Jonathan Ashworth MP came to New Cross hospital in Wolverhampton to see how the NHS in Wolverhampton is planning to secure its workforce in the future and at the same time to avoid the high costs of agency nurses and locum doctors.
With staff shortages and unfilled vacancies, which is a problem throughout the NHS, Mr Ashworth and the local MPs were keen to learn about some of the innovations being pioneered locally to deal with these issues.
During a presentation from the Chief Executive of the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust David Loughton and his senior team, we were told:
- The hospital uses a “teletracking” system to show where all staff are at any given time and where there are empty beds available to maximise efficiency and the use of hospital respources
- The hospital has a partnership with Wolverhampton University to offer clinical fellowships to doctors, meaning they can gain new additional qualifications while they work. This has made working at new Cross more attractive than at some other hospitals and cuts down on locum costs by ensuring vacancies are filled quicker.
- The hospital does not use agency nurses but instead a “Nurse Bank” which uses over time and part time work of locally based nurses to ensure shifts are carried out
- The hospital has a “vertical integration” project with local GPs, employing some directly, to use data on patient conditions more effectively and get particular help to patients who use NHS surgeries or A&E frequently.
It was very interesting to see some of the innovations being used here in Wolverhampton to ensure we have the best possible treatment for patients. Getting the right staff in place is integral to the future of the NHS. There are many NHS vacancies around the country and some hospitals have had to spend a fortune on agency and locum doctors to try to bridge the gap. It makes more sense to have permanent appointments and to put systems in place to ensure the staff know the hospital and are committed to working in the city for a good period of time. Through the practices we saw, that’s what New Cross is trying to do.