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Unlock a Flexible Pool of Doctors – Digitalising Internal Locum Banks

Digitising internal medical locum bank to deliver safe, effective care to our patients whilst reducing the spiralling locum costs of external agencies.

Read comments 26
  • Proposal
  • 2022

Meet the team


  • Zoe Parks
  • Tracey Woods
  • Cara Matchett
  • Dr Aisling Diamond

What is the challenge your project is going to address and how does it connect to the theme?

There is growing pressure for Trusts to meet workforce challenges and address the rising cost of engaging doctors via locum agencies. NI Health Trusts spending on locum doctors has increased by 43% since 2016 – with last year costing almost £100m.

Digitising our online process for securing internal medical cover and launching an app will give the service greater visibility and allow us to connect doctors to locum work in our Trust without agencies.  Private organisations have spotted this gap and are rapidly designing new digital products. These are expensive with some charging £15 for every shift filled. Southern Trust filled >10,000 shifts last year so that would have been a 150K charge, driving vital funds away from patient care.

Our idea connects strongly to the theme to use digital tools to improve management real time data and enable vacant shifts to be filled efficiently, faster- supporting safe care.

What does your project aim to achieve?

Our aim is to digitise our entire locum process for managing our flexible medical workforce. A mobile app will make it easier for our doctors to book into vacant shifts and ensure our wards are safely staffed. We hope fully digital processes will achieve:

·       Enhanced patient care by facilitating more locum shifts to be filled, more often and more               efficiently.  This will also help reduce stress amongst staff.

–      Improved visibility for service and clinical managers with real time insights of all locum shift bookings

·       App for doctors booking and cancelling shifts

·       Improved fill rates for shifts via our internal medical bank as opposed to agency

·       Widened pool of available workforce with an increase in doctors joining a fully digital HSC elocum platform

·       Improved governance and improved patient safety

·       Savings for the health service in terms of less external locum agency usage

How will the project be delivered?

Specifically the Southern Trust would like to upgrade our existing eLocum platform by re-engaging our software developer to ensure our end to end process is fully digitised to meet the needs of the service and doctors have mobile access to view and book shifts via an App.  Additional funding will allow the SHSCT to commission 6-9 months to complete the necessary software design and build.  We would also plan to use part of the funding to engage junior doctors in a co design approach as key stakeholders.  We plan to engage Junior Doctors in a Clinical Fellow Project using dedicated time to ensure it will meet their needs and the needs of the service to improve medical cover throughout the SHSCT and improve patient safety.

How is your project going to share learning?

We will measure the impact of our project robustly with quantitative and qualitative means which can be disseminated widely to regional NI HR and Medical Director Forums. We intend the software to be fully HSC owned so it can be extended for use to other staff groups and NI Trusts with no additional cost. Having wide stakeholder involvement will allow us to test and document our learning throughout the project with the aim of sharing this learning to other potential adopters. We will write our project into a Case Study for presenting and sharing at local, regional and national HSC/NHS/HSE forums.

How you can contribute

  • We would really value your comments, suggestions and views on our project? Critique is always welcome
  • What are the perspectives / stakeholders do you think we need to consider in this project?
  • Are there any interested individuals with good ideas, project management skills or digital technology knowledge willing to join the project?

Plan timeline

4 Sep 2022 Engagement with stakeholders, junior doctors and internal HSC Software Developer
1 Nov 2022 Design of New Software including updates and reviews
1 Nov 2022 Walking through with internal software developer to upgrade existing platform
1 Dec 2022 Development of New Guidance Process/Protocol and Marketing materials
1 May 2023 Testing of new system build and app build
1 Jun 2023 Feedback and Refinement of new system build
3 Jul 2023 Implementation and roll out of new system app
1 Sep 2023 Evaluation Phase and Review Sustain and Spread


  1. Guest

    Iain Gough 3 months ago

    This is a fantastic idea which will allow HSC organisations to offer users a simple, mobile-friendly interface - similar to (or better than) what they are able to access from agencies, thus encouraging shift uptake through our internal bank arrangements.  A great example of how modernising systems and maximising use of technology could tangibly improve our service, supported by a robust evidence base.  The potential to spread learning to other staff groups/corporate banks in future is exciting.

  2. Guest

    Victoria Millar 3 months ago

    This is a fantastic project and greatly needed as it will improve locum shift fill rates and lessen reliance on expensive external agencies. By creating a credible app that allows Doctors to easily view and book locum shifts, we will increase confidence in our internal processes and encourage our Doctors to move away from using external agencies.

    Managers will see real time shift information to assist with their planning which will reduce time spent on the phone and monitoring numerous emails.

    An entirely online process will reduce the need for any supplementary recording on excel which will generate more robust data for analytics. With all data held centrally it will be much easier to extract key information and trends. The data will also give a more accurate representation of locum usage within the Trust, and could be used to measure the success of the project.

  3. Guest

    Clare Wilkinson 3 months ago

    This sounds like a great idea. It would deliver the modernisation the locums need and expect when booking shifts and will likely engage more locums more frequently.  We would be really hopeful that this comes into fruition as it would make such a positive difference to doctors, patient care and service delivery.


  4. Guest

    Maryna Chambers 3 months ago

    At last a digital solution to simplify our locums ability to "sign up" for shifts at the touch of a button on their mobile phones...thank you for leading the way on this worthwhile project for the whole of HSCNI. If COVID has taught us anything, it's the need to simplify our processes to enable potential staff to join our workforce.

  5. Guest

    Siobhan Hynds 3 months ago

    An excellent 'invest to save' idea which brings with it the benefit of improved governance and patient safety.

  6. Guest

    Yvonne Brannigan 3 months ago

    This is an excellent initative, and I would fully support it.  We need to move to digital where possible to engage with our medical labour pool to help reduce locum costs from external agencies and more importantly to improve patient care. Any tool which helps fill shifts more efficiently and allow for forward planning will not only benefit our staff but also our communities in terms of service continuity and governance.

    This will help get the right people in the right roles, for the right shifts, at the right time, on time, and within budget - lets use technology to help us deliver our services better!


  7. A wonderfully simple idea for a complex and key issue for the service.  This project has the potential to increase efficiency, reduce costs, improve engagement with the workforce (both doctors and service managers), which will help improve morale, whilst also improving the quality of care and therefore outcomes for our service users.  A fantastic opportunity to work collaboratively with leaders at all levels, within and across teams and with the potential for scale and spread across HSC.  Very best of luck with this very worthwhile project.

  8. Guest

    Daniel Hollington 3 months, 2 weeks ago

    Sounds excellent. Makes the process of finding additional medical staff much more streamline, from both the perspective of the employer and employee. Use of an app simplifies the way in which doctors would be able to find out about shift availability. Would be great to have such an app across all trusts in Northern Ireland

    1. Guest

      Tracey Woods 3 months, 2 weeks ago

      Thank you Daniel for taking the time to feedback it is great to get another response from the medical staff. Good to see that you think the app would be of benefit to the Trusts in NI and make the advertisement of Locums shifts easier to view from a Locum perspective.

  9. Guest

    Luke Trueman 3 months, 2 weeks ago

    From first hand experience - I would be much more likely to book ad-hoc locum medical shifts if it was via an app. This sounds like a great idea and definitely one the SHSCT should pursue!

    1. Guest

      Tracey Woods 3 months, 2 weeks ago

      Thank you Luke for the feedback it is great to get a doctors view on this as we want to ensure it works for you’s as one of the main users of the app and system.

  10. Briege, this could make such a difference to how we approach bank staff arrangements and, if successful, could be spread widely to other HC professionals.  A great project and best of luck with it.

    1. Guest

      Thank you Ronan. We really appreciate your views on how you could see this project working.

  11. Guest

    Avril Morrow 3 months, 2 weeks ago

    A great idea! An initiative which will digitise the HSC eLocum internal doctor system to help reduce locum costs from external agencies and more importantly to improve patient care.  It will allow our internal doctors to book shifts more efficiently improving both governance and cover on our wards. This will be a much simpler process and will make such a difference to the doctors, rota managers and medical locum staff working together to ensure safe rota cover for the patient.

    1. Guest

      Thank you Avril, your feedback is appreciated. We know this has been a challenge for so many years. Thank you for your support.

  12. Guest

    Elaine ONeill 3 months, 2 weeks ago

    Really meaningful project and well needed upgrade current  eLocum booking systems which are antiquated and not fit for purpose. The use of an interactive realtime app on mobile phones will allow shifts to be  immediately visible and filled quickly by internal bank pool of e-Locums without resorting to 'on' and 'off' contract recruitment locum agencies at massive costs. This keeps the eLocum engaged within HSC and also allows them to build up accredited experience within the HSC as a bank worker ( not something that is achieved by working directly for an agency). The drive for digilisation, moblisation of the workforce and e- health technology starts at recruitment and by providing a key enabler to fill shifts easily, this will benefit directly patients , clients and service users. A required functional aspect of key reporting from the system should also keep the process transparent for service manager to better understand locum costs and drive quality and cost reductions.

    1. Guest

      Thank you Elaine. Your advice and feedback is appreciated. It is so great to have support and enthusiasm from colleagues from other Trusts in Northern Ireland. The potential for the proposal idea to be rolled out across all Trust's in N Ireland is our ultimate aim. The possibility of spread and scope is exciting.


  13. Guest

    This is a great idea - and given the challenges we have encountered through COVID in keeping services available, would enhance our capabilities to fill critical shifts in a timely and informed manner.

    Digitisation is the way forward - improving and simplifying rota scheduling, allowing early identification of deficits and providing a better service to patients

    1. Guest

      Thank you Anne. You are absolutely right the challenges brought by covid bring the importance of visibility,  flexibility and transparency firmly into focus.

      We hope by engaging stakeholders including those who can advocate for front-line staff, this will really help shape the direction for our health technology.

  14. Team such a great idea that will simplify the process for our Locum Doctors and our HR Team who are managing the process. This idea could easily be utilised across all Trusts in Northern Ireland and further a field.

    1. Guest

      Thank you Jacqueline. We are really  excited at the possibilities updated technologies could bring to this project. We very much want the project to be HSC owned so it can be shared widely.

  15. Guest

    Anne Marie Nixon 3 months, 2 weeks ago

    Moving to digitalise technology means simplifying and streamlining the locum process. Technology delivers key benefits for the Trust alongside positive outcomes for administrative staff and healthcare professionals. It saves administrative time and paper work, as well as absolute agency spend reduction.

    Additional Benefits include:

    • Improved patient care
    • Improved patient outcomes
    • Improved patient quality of life and satisfaction of care
    • Reduced waiting times for A&E
    • Reduced stress among staff
    • Reduced turnover of staff
    1. Guest

      Thank you for your much valued feedback and support. We look forward to engaging in lots of discussion and seeking lots of alternative views as our idea progresses.

  16. Guest

    Simon Galloway 3 months, 2 weeks ago

    In today’s age of finger tip technology, it is essential that any platform which seeks to address vacant shifts is available via an app. The benefits are vast for example, timely dissemination of vacant shifts, immediate booking, no calls to make for locum or management, real-time interface and display of filled and infilled vacancies, reduction in agency spend, safer and more pleasant working conditions, increased patient experience and safety etc. We need to be able to catch the audience no matter where they are, so they can make decisions on their availability. It’s is important to engage with the appropriate stakeholders. The end user will be familiar with alternative apps and will be able to give positive and negative experiences so this can be captured and worked on in the design and development stages. The Health Service is a fast evolving industry and we must move with technology to aid our growing pressures.

    1. Guest

      Thank you so much Simon.  Really useful insight and valid points here which we will absolutely consider. Thank you for taking the time to feedback!

  17. Guest

    Stephen Morrison 3 months, 2 weeks ago

    This is a fantastic idea and brilliant way of fully digitising the process of getting locums into the Trust.  The system will make it so easy for both doctors and the service to both advertise and fill locum shifts. The benefits will there for the doctors through the ease of the process for requesting locum shifts and for the Trust  through improved governance, patient safety and ease of filling gaps whilst hopefully reducing costs.

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