Late finishes data release

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We have long recognised that late finishes are one of the most important issues for our staff. 

Whilst we hear anecdotally about individuals experiencing long overruns, we have been trying hard to establish the actual extent of late finishes Trust wide through the collection of incidental overtime data, which we started a new process to record in February 2017. 

This week (7th March) we are sharing our first set of data which shows that while most shifts finish on time, we still have on average between a quarter and a third of shifts which extend up to one hour beyond finish time. 

Furthermore, there are a very small number who finish 14, 15 or 16 hours after the start of their shift, between 3 – 5 per cent of shifts. However, despite the small numbers, behind each late finish are individual colleagues and we can’t ignore the impact such late finishes can have on wellbeing, resilience and family life. 

We haven’t fully validated all of this data and will be reviewing late finishes over 15 hours to try to understand the core reasons to inform future work in this area.

We are all acutely aware of the seasonal variations and are still feeling the impact of winter pressures as we manage huge demand.  It is important to understand the relationship between increased demand, hospital handover delays and the acuity of patients and late finishes. 

In the context of a gap between capacity and demand and the ever-growing impact of arrival to handover delays, these additional hours worked are what makes the difference for some of our sickest patients whom would otherwise be waiting for a response and we remain incredibly grateful for our hardworking staff who go above and beyond every day. 

While the Trust is currently making good progress negotiating with Commissioners to secure more investment to recruit more staff, we must explore every opportunity in the meantime to get people home on time as much as is practically possible in an emergency service.

We have been working in partnership with UNISON over the last two years to try a number of different pilot approaches to try and reduce late finishes.  Regrettably, the measures trialled to date have not had the impact we hoped. Given the capacity gap, this is not to some extent any surprise but is frustrating for all of us.  We will continue to work with UNISON to try and resolve this issue in partnership and are meeting again in a few days.

In recent months the Trust also decided to take a different approach and established a focus group of staff from across the Service in patient-facing, EOC and management roles to consider new ideas to be trialled to see what improvements we can achieve in the short term without impacting on patient safety. 

This group has met twice so far and has another two sessions on late finishes planned in the near future, although these may need to be postponed due to the increase to REAP level 3. 

We want our people to know we are working hard to do what we can to reduce late finishes and welcome your feedback and involvement to make this happen. You can follow the work of the home on time group on Need to Know and through the hashtag #HomeOnTime 

In the meantime we want to thank you all for continuing to go the extra mile for our patients, we know we’re busy and you are EEAST.

Published 7th March 2018

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