SOUTH Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) has employed an HR tech firm to shake-up its roster systems.

Working Time Solutions say the changes will improve patient care, support employee wellbeing – and has the potential to generate 'significant savings.'

But last month the Daily Echo reported how staff representatives said the new system led to workers struggling to get annual leave, reportedly facing 10 or more refusals just to be granted time off with their families.

The HR tech firm say the project has modernised working patterns for around 2,500 frontline employees to better align resources with changes in demand created by NHS England’s Ambulance Response Programme. The new national performance standards, which SWASFT helped pilot, prioritise the sickest patients to ensure they receive the fastest response.

Special software used has helped SWASFT create new demand-led rosters, which ensure the appropriate people and vehicles are in the correct location, at the right time which means more crews are available to respond to emergency calls with improved response times.

Working Time Solutions, which has helped organisations deliver more than £100 million in efficiencies, say the new rosters have also helped limit overworking and stress and led to improved work-life balance through more predictable finish times.

They say the new rosters have helped cut shift overruns by an average of 25 minutes per shift and early-stage analysis shows the reduction in these overruns has the potential to generate significant savings.

Neil Le Chevalier, director of operations at SWASFT, said: “Resourcing lies at the heart of many strategic issues ambulance services face.

“Modernising our working patterns was vital to help us meet expectations around patient care, value for money, employee wellbeing and productivity.

“The project has delivered a broad range of significant and sustainable benefits across these areas and we now also have the capability to continuously refine our rosters in line with changes to demand.

“Working Time Solutions was central to the success of the roster review. They worked seamlessly with our HR and Operations teams, providing the software tools and knowledge we need to optimise our rosters now and in the future.”