With GP practices and pharmacies under increasing pressure from the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out and the pandemic, Adrian Lewis, Commercial Director at Activ Absence says that absence management technology can help be an essential tool at this busy time to help them get on top of sick leave, reduce the cost of absences, and manage staff shortages.
A BMA Covid-19 tracker survey[i] last October revealed that staff shortages were a concern for 59% of GPs, with almost four in 10 reporting that the sick leave or self-isolation of clinical colleagues had impacted patient care. Also, almost three-quarters of GPs reported feeling ‘anxious’ about work as mental health issues among GPs are on the rise.
Adrian Lewis says, “GP practices and pharmacies are on the front line and have been dealing with patients throughout the pandemic. Many are supporting the vaccine programme, adding further pressures to their workload. They need robust online systems for monitoring staff absence, to ensure they have adequate cover and can support the health and wellbeing of their staff.”
“In many cases, absence management technology is replacing paper-based systems and transforming the management of absences. This technology gives companies complete visibility over their workforce, enabling managers to track absence and spot any unusual trends such as someone having a lot of time off which may mean they are struggling. It prompts return to work interviews and enables managers to keep on top of staff rotas, spot staffing gaps and organise cover, ensuring a business can operate efficiently in any circumstance.”
Widcombe Surgery in Bath has introduced absence management technology from Activ Absence. Previously, they had used paper forms to record absence, and staff holidays were recorded using stickers on a calendar – a system that was overcomplicated, and the information recorded often inaccurate.
Practice Manager, Elaine Smith explains, “To work out holiday entitlement we had to count little blue stickers on the calendar. Sick leave was recorded on paper forms and there were no proper records. Since introducing the system staff love being able to book holiday leave more easily.
“The tool is web based so they can check on their phones when they plan holidays, to make sure there is adequate cover when they book. The team is now in control of their own records. It’s easy to move a sticker on a calendar and cheat but that’s not possible with this software, it’s fair and transparent.”
Monitoring sick leave has improved absence rates. Since absence has been monitored and a ‘return to work’ form required, staff are less likely to call in sick if they are not genuinely ill. They are aware of the impact sick leave has on patients and the practice, making them think twice before calling in sick.
Elaine adds, “Deploying absence management software has enabled us to reduce our admin costs and improve our processes and procedures, minimising the impact of staff absences on patients and freeing up resources to focus on patient care.”
Lindsay & Gilmour Pharmacy, the largest independent pharmacy group in Scotland, also uses this software to improve staff management across 30 locations. With 300 members of staff, one of its biggest challenges was managing holiday and sickness absences using paper-based processes. People were faxing holiday requests to the head office and this led to inaccuracies and delays because things were not always recorded correctly.
Managing Director and Superintendent Pharmacist, Phil Galt wanted better visibility at an organisational and branch level so pharmacy managers could manage staffing better and monitor and reduce sickness absence.
Phil says, “The greatest benefit is that the software delivers one version of the truth and managers have complete visibility of staff across the business. We can use the data to tell employees how much sickness absence costs the company every year and this has already led to a reduction in absence.
“The data has also led us to propose changes to our sickness policy; rather than trying to save money we want to reinvest it to pay for additional benefits for our employees. We also receive notifications if staff are sick so can see immediately where we have staff shortages. We can then transfer staff from another location to cover if necessary. The system is now an integrated part of our business. We want to be an employer of choice and look after our staff and this gives us the tools to do that and at the same time, improve to our business processes and save money and reduce administration.”
For more information on absence management software visit: www.activabsence.co.uk