How To: Part 2, Preparation is Still Key

Changing From a Rota Pattern to a Shift Allocation Quota

Once we have a standard template such as that shown above, we can start to progress with the rota.  Instead of thinking of it as a set pattern, think of what we have now as a certain number of shifts to allocate.  From the pattern above we know that we have every 16 weeks:

Weekday day shifts: 24
Weekday mid shifts: 8
Weekday late shifts: 11
Weekday night shifts: 8
Weekend days: 4
Weekend lates: 2
Weekend nights: 4

And non-clinical days: 12

Simple you say, and it kind of is, however not everyone works full time so the LTFT trainees need their pattern agreeing first.  Is a 60% trainee going to work 60% of all kinds of shifts?  60% of weekends?  Split weekends?  This all needs to be discussed and decided with them.

If doing this rota has taught me one thing it’s don’t assume that what you like from a rota is what the next person does.  Many LTFT trainees I’ve spoken to have been happier to work OOH shifts or weekends because it fits in better with care arrangements or social lives.

Dr Andy Webster has been amazing at providing the template for every trainee and has certainly saved me a lot of work.  For example, here is the template for one of our 60% trainees:

So, the rota is now simplified into easier and more consistent shift types, and all less than full time trainees have got a rota that meets their holistic needs.  Even if no change was made from here on your trainees will still thank you for what you have done!

Minimum Staffing Levels

Next, before you can build a rota you’ll need to know how many people to allocate to each shift.  In smaller departments this might be simple: 2 day regs, 2 late regs and 1 night reg is your minimum staffing but it is worth considering how “future proof” this model will be.  For bigger departments or cross sites it will become gradually more complicated.  Again, simplicity is key.  At Leeds we went for “4 days regs, 4 late regs, 2 night regs” as our minimum staffing for week days with no special rules.  This provides a clear goal of what the rota needs to provide.

When you have done your minimum staffing levels and have your rota templates you should be able to see if what you are setting yourself up to do is possible.  For example, we fall short of being able to cover all of our weekday lates by about 10% based on everything I’ve worked out.  Knowing this before compiling the rota is important as a) some empty late slots can be expected, b) expectations can be set that the rota, while improving staff coverage won’t mean that there are surplus registrars on every shift and c) it can help manage recruitment of extra members of staff to meet the requirement.

Give People an Opt Out!

We are nearly at a point where we can start writing a rota!  But before we do check with your trainees this is what they want, before we went live we offered people the option to stay on the old rolling rota.  One trainee did, this is absolutely fine, as I said before I’ve learnt not to assume that what I want from a rota is what other people would want. 

We added the one trainee’s rota in and away we went.

One trainee won’t stop us having a flexible rota, we could probably accept 3 or 4 trainees not wanting to be flexible but any more than that and you would rapidly lose the ability to deliver what you needed to. 

The “we could probably accept 3 or 4” isn’t scientific it’s a gut feel and a number reflecting our 34 person registrar rota.  Smaller departments would need more a similar percentage buy in from members.

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