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Transparent, flexible rostering ‘integral’ to doctors’ morale

The NHS must learn from the past when considering doctors’ rostering systems, NHS leaders have said.

Speaking at an NHS Confederation meeting, sponsored by Allocate, to discuss the future of doctors’ rostering, Paul Wallace, director of employment relations and reward at NHS Employers, said that the NHS must learn from the past and look at how the system can be improved.

He explained that it is not about being “stuck in the past,” but rather accepting that the system was flawed and considering how this can be changed to ensure a better experience when rostering and employing staff in the future: “Let’s not kid ourselves. Everything wasn't perfect.

“If we accept that as a truism then what to we do with that? How do we change the position?

“How do we make sure that we've got a better experience when we’re rostering and employing staff?”

With increased demand and staffing pressures facing the NHS, he explained that it is “imperative” to have efficient rostering systems to enable trusts to deploy their skills and resources effectively.

Darren Kilroy, deputy medical director at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, added that an effective system increases transparency and visibility, allowing an employer to identify where its staff are working at any time.

However, this can meet resistance from staff, with concerns of a “Big Brother” culture.

Kilroy explained that language is important when delivering a new system to staff: “I find that phrase goes away relatively quickly.

“If you give the messages in the right way, all the things that we’re doing around job planning, rostering, allocation of resources - it’s all actually to make care easier, to make it more straightforward, and to give people a clearer sense of where they fit into the great jigsaw of everything.”

Jeeves Wijesuriya, chair of the BMA’s junior doctors committee, argued that an effective, transparent rostering system gives greater flexibility and the ability to meet employees’ needs, such as annual leave requests and training needs, which “integral” to morale and keeps junior doctors in their chosen trusts.

He said that training is a high priority for the staff group, adding: “That’s what helps with morale - that feeling of ‘I'm working with my boss on their theatre list that I know is their teaching list, that I'm doing the clinic with them.’

“There’s an element to which we need to try and roster that builds in the capacity for them to take the study leave they need to be skilled enough to do the job and be the registrars tomorrow that you will need on the next roster.”

Top image: in-future

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