‘NHS Passports’ to help staff work flexibly and cut admin costs

Health service staff in England will be able to move seamlessly between sites in a bid to make it easier to take on new roles, plug gaps in staffing and improve patients’ care.

Following successful pilot projects, all hospitals in England are being urged to sign-up to passporting agreements, which will cut the need for up to two-day inductions and other admin when staff move between organisations.

All clinicians working in hospitals that have these agreements will be able to move across different NHS sites to offer care to patients before returning to their main trust.

The scheme is part of a package of measures to be set out today by the NHS’ chief people officer at a conference in Manchester, in moves to build a workforce to deliver the Long Term Plan.

Alongside passporting, Prerana Issar will confirm £7 million funding is set to be put into local services to support the nationwide introduction of e-rostering, allowing staff to plan patient care rotas months ahead.

The expansion of flexible work plans follows moves which have helped retain more than 1,000 nurses, midwives and other clinicians over the last 18 months through a ‘retention programme’ in NHS trusts, which is now also being rolled out across GP surgeries.

Supporting flexible working for staff is seen as a cornerstone of helping to improve retention rates as outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan and interim People Plan.

The Long Term Plan commits the NHS to improve staff retention rates by 2% by 2025, the equivalent of recruiting an extra 12,400 staff, with staff working in the NHS to be deployed using an electronic roster or e-job plan by 2021.

Prerana Issar, Chief People Officer for NHS England and NHS Improvement said: “This shows we are delivering on our Long Term Plan promises to improve flexible working for staff and ensuring the right clinician is available for patients.

“By making unwieldy paper staff schedules a thing of the past and introducing passporting, we are supporting our world-class staff so they can not only continue to give patients brilliant care, but further build their careers as they do so.”

Supporting the deployment of staff across a number of different NHS sites through passporting has already been trialled successfully at five hospitals across London.

Staff at these trusts have reported an increase in more flexible working patterns and improved ability to share experiences and knowledge between services.

Professor Carrie MacEwen, Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said: “It’s great to see the introduction of passports and e-rostering which will undoubtedly make life easier for NHS staff and help improve the quality of care. There have been many attempts to crack this problem and we very much hope this will finally sort the issue.”

These workforce sharing agreements encourage host organisations to recognise that employment checks and core training have been undertaken at the employing organisation.

The ‘e-rosters’ which are already in use in some trusts around the country, can be set at a click of a button, saving hours of NHS staff time that can instead be used for face to face patient time.
Jeremy Walsh, South London Mental Health and Community Partnership director, said: “We wanted to make it easier for people to move between the Trusts. It means people can develop and enhance their career and gain wider experiences, and of course move when they need for personal reasons, with a speeded up recruitment process.

“Previously there could be long waits – and additional costs – while waiting to fill roles when staff from partner Trusts had accepted the position. The Employee Passport means people don’t have to undergo pre-employment checks again, and can transfer over common mandatory and staff training (MAST).

“This significantly reduces the time from accepting the role to being able to start. Staff can also share their appraisal and development records if they want, to enable a more seamless continuation of their learning and development. It makes it easier for staff, and benefits the Trusts and of course patients.”