The tyranny of the Excel spreadsheet continues, and especially in rostering staff. Nowhere is this more acutely felt in today’s COVID-pressured hospital wards, which are now depleted not just by the disease but by staff burnout from patchy-over or under-scheduling of staff hours. Two doctors realized this and decided to create a startup.
Patchwork Health has now raised £3.5m from Praetura Ventures and BMJ New Ventures, the investment arm of BMJ (global healthcare knowledge provider and publisher of The BMJ).
Founded in 2016 by NHS doctors Anas Nader and Jing Ouyang, the platform is now used by over 70 NHS sites to fill vacant shifts and offer staff flexible working. It couldn’t have come sooner: The NHS currently has 90,000 vacancies and 1 in 5 staff are said to be considering quitting due to stress and exhaustion.
Patchwork replaces this spreadsheet with a dashboard which predicts when temporary staff will be needed. Shifts are broadcast to an app and temporary staff use the app to select the shifts which suits them. The passporting of credentials, HR paperwork, and payments are all handled through the same system. Full-time healthcare workers can have their personal preferences reflected in their rotas without leaving NHS wards with staffing gaps, the startup says.
Dr Nader said: “We’re already partnering with over 70 NHS sites to tackle the root causes of burnout, offer full-time and temporary staff more choices, and create stronger staffing foundations for hospitals. Through our technology and services, flexible work and safely staffed wards can go hand in hand.”
David Foreman, Managing Director at Praetura Ventures and Non-Executive Director of Patchwork, added: “From the moment we met Anas and Jing, we could see the passion for their business. Patchwork is helping to solve a staffing crisis in the NHS. They’ve made real strides over the last 18 months and have the potential to make seismic changes in the way we organise staff in one of the world’s largest healthcare systems.”