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West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust revolutionises its monitoring process using Zircadian's e-Monitor module
It is widely accepted, including by the BMA, that tired doctors often cannot work to their full potential. Studies have shown that the effects of sleep deprivation are similar to the effects of alcohol consumption on driving performance.
The New Deal and the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) are regulations that have been introduced to reduce the working hours of junior doctors to sensible levels, so that a safe, high quality service can be provided for patients. Trusts now have a contractual responsibility to regularly monitor the hours worked by junior doctors to ensure compliance with these rules.
The Trust employs 144 junior doctors on 28 different rotas. Originally, over the course of a year 576 individual paper diary cards would be hand-produced by a member of the medical staffing department.
During each monitoring round, cards would be delivered to each doctor being monitored. This could take between one and two weeks as medical staffing employees would have to physically visit the wards and
deliver the paper forms to doctors, which was difficult when some doctors were on nights or annual leave etc.
The diary cards were not user-friendly, took a long time to fill in, and tended to come back damaged and illegible. As requests for sending back the forms were mostly ignored, the forms had to be physically collected with someone bleeping each individual doctor and meeting them to get the diary card, causing the diversion of clinicians’ valuable time to what was essentially a protracted administrative task.
The retrieval and return rates of the cards was poor. Then, when forms had finally been received, the data had to be transferred manually into a computer system with a medical staffing employee painstakingly analysing each doctor’s results.
West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust has revolutionised its annual monitoring process and demonstrated its strong commitment to the principles of the New Deal and EWTD by using Zircadian’s e-Monitor software. The system is an electronic hours monitoring method
that eradicates the need for paper diary cards and the long‑winded process of creating, distributing, gathering and collating them.
Because the paper diary card process was so time‑consuming, only one department could be monitored per month. By using Zircadian’s electronic system, the Trust now completes the process across all departments in the same time. The Medical Staffing Manager responsible for handling monitoring, finds that a great deal of her time originally taken up by the process can now be redeployed to other duties.
Liz Houghton, Deputy Director of HR at the Trust, comments: “Introduction of the e-Monitor system has not only improved the working lives of the medical staffing team – the Trust’s doctors are also happier with the online diary cards as they streamline the complex monitoring process, and enable their time and attention to be concentrated where it matters most.”