The high levels of locum doctor usage within Health & Social Care in Northern Ireland (HSCNI) was attracting attention, primarily because of the costs involved. A Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) report said the reliance on locums was "unsustainable" and rising costs were putting "huge strain" on budgets.
I was contacted by the Trusts within HSCNI to develop a regional software system that would aim to be a central repository for Trusts to advertise all of their ad-hoc locum shifts. Locum doctors could then register with the online software and be offered 'first pick' of available shifts and an unrivalled range of opportunities in their area, specialty and level. Also, competitive pay rates were offered and prompt weekly payments.
I played an integral role in the design and development of a custom web-based software application to meet the needs of the HSCNI Trusts. The Locum Management System was used by all HSC Trusts in NI to advertise, fill and process payments for medical locum ad-hoc shifts.
The software created an easy online process for locum doctors to register and submit their qualifications within the various specialty and level. Once each doctors credentials were verified, they would receive notifications by email and SMS of the shifts they were qualified to work.
The software created a paperless service, helped to standardise the rate of pay being offered for each shift and also limited the use of private agencies (who also advertised ad-hoc locum shifts). Also, due to the verification processes built into the software, it meant that locum doctors could not be assigned to a shift that they were not qualified to work.
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