Irish hospitals could save millions each year without incurring any job losses through the use of web-based workforce management tools and decreased reliance on agency workers, it has been claimed.
SMART, a company which provides web-based solutions for workforce management across the NHS, claims the Royal Free Hampstead NHS trust hospital in London is saving around €5 million per year by reducing its reliance on agency workers.
In its National Service Plan for 2012, the HSE highlighted the “critical” need to reduce spend on agency staff usage – which hit €200 million in 2011 – by up to 50 per cent.
According to SMART, health boards and trusts around the UK and Northern Ireland have achieved significant savings while maintaining and improving quality patient care by more efficient use of existing resources using web-based solutions that can easily be replicated in Ireland.
According to the company, in Western Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland, for example, the introduction of e-rostering has enabled the health board to move “from the traditional 12-hour long-day shifts to more efficient and more family-friendly shorter shift patterns”.
“As health boards in Ireland, along with those in England, face huge budget cuts, harnessing technology and looking at new ways of working has to be seriously considered,” according to Tristan Spencer, Director of Health Division at SMART.
“Based on our experience, working with many trusts during workforce efficiency assessments, we see average annual savings of €35,000 per ward or €1,200 per employee. However, for many health authorities the savings can be much more.”