Covid-19 pandemic absence management
The sharp and significant rise in absence of healthcare staff has been a challenge shared by every NHS Trust during the Covid-19 pandemic. Like many organisations, in early March 2020, University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) began to see absences far higher than the norm among the 11,000 staff at Royal Stoke University Hospital and County Hospital in Stafford.
In the following months, UHNM would need to deliver not just extensive real-time daily reporting to NHS England and Improvement but work tirelessly to ensure every absent employee reporting Covid-19 symptoms or exposure was supported to return to work safely at the right time.
Reporting more easily
The Trust found itself in a better position to meet its absence reporting challenges than in previous pandemics such as H1N1 influenza. This was largely because it had started to implement the Empactis platform in 2019, and its absence module was already in place. “Having Empactis meant we could have a report ready to send to NHSEI with a push of three buttons” said Gemma Grimes, Head of Employee Relations.
Booking tests rapidly
UHNM knew that the national NHS staff testing scheme would help uninfected staff return to work faster, instead of remaining in unnecessary isolation. Yet it faced a hurdle: staff contact information is largely held by line managers, and the information created in ESR can be out of date.
The Empactis team was asked to respond to an urgent request: surfacing staff contact information into an easily accessible report to enable the UHNM’s centralised Workforce Bureau to contact staff for testing quickly following notification of any Covid-19 related absence. Gemma said “It would have taken significantly more time than it takes now – even if it were possible at all. The priorities for testing are our doctors and nurses in critical care and A&E and our anaesthetists, and their line managers are not sitting at desks awaiting calls. We would have had to rely on ESR data, but our success rate of getting through would have been far lower.”
The partnership with Empactis worked well to support the Trust at a critical time.
“This was a real game changer on staff testing. It was only possible with the responsiveness of the Empactis team who really helped us meet our challenging target to get staff testing up and running.”Jane Haire, Deputy Director of HR, UHNM
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