Interview with Dr Ahmed Shahrabani, Co-Founder at Locum’s Nest: Connecting Doctors To Locum Work in Hospitals

Locum’s Nest is a technology company, providing a holistic workforce solution to NHS Trusts and Primary Care organisations, on a mission to solve the NHS staffing challenge. Our flagship product, Locum’s Nest Match, connects 30,000 healthcare professionals to vacant work in healthcare organisations, including almost 40 Trusts and hundreds of GP practices.

Founded by 2 junior doctors, our vision is to increase transparency, collaboration and improve care outcomes within our health service, through our intuitive mobile and web multi-product platform used by healthcare professionals and NHS management teams. We support NHS organisations to work in a more transparent manner and increase engagement of their workforce, in ways ranging from digital shift-matching, staff recruitment, communication, data visualisation and interoperability.

We strongly believe in the power of collaboration and synergy, and therefore have pioneered the formation of digital collaborative workforce banks across the country. By removing barriers to workforce mobility, we have enabled via The Digital Collaborative – the biggest workforce coalition of NHS Trusts in the country, clinicians to cross-cover vacant shifts across an ever-growing number of NHS Trusts.
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How did you come up with the idea for the company?

The story of Locum’s Nest was born in Epsom and St Helier Hospital, where I and Nick (the other Locum’s Nest Co-Founder) were on the same ward with a few friends. Every Friday the rota coordinator would come to the ward and ask one of us to cover the afternoon shift on the following Sunday. If the consensus answer was “no” then what followed would be a barrage of texts, emails, phone calls, bleeps to try to find cover as, ultimately, it is clinical safety that is affected.

If no one was found through the full-time employees’ spreadsheet or the bank, the rota coordinator would resort back to phone calls, emails, texts etc to a bunch of local agencies. Basically, it was a process that costs a lot of time and a lot of money; we didn’t like it as the clinicians, the core HR team were spending too many hours with very little luck in finding a doctor.

We thought there must be a better way of doing this and, as with other industries, the idea was born to cut out the middle man with technology. Between us, we spent all year working with the trust to ask the question, ‘what should the solution look like?’

We built a free-to-use mobile application for doctors, which had features such as a built-in digital passport that logs clinicians’ HR details to allow them to work in other trusts – they could input things like their specialty, credibility etc and link it to various calendars and rosters and they would be notified of shifts that matched their requirements 100%. Rather than being bombarded with all jobs available, the application filtered jobs that were only applicable to their skillset.

That was 3 years ago and the application was very different back then to what it is now. Nick and I did a comprehensive coding course, which taught us one very important skill – that you really need someone who knows how to do it!


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

The entire company focus shifted at the start of the pandemic towards how we could deliver as much value as possible to our NHS partners, helping them deal with the challenges COVID-19 brought on in the immediate term as well as supporting them in preparing to deal with the longer-term challenges as we came out of each peak.

We co-developed a Workforce Intelligence Navigator which triangulated data from Public Health England, the GMC and NHS Trust data to help predict surges in demand with outbreaks of the virus within certain geographies, allowing Trusts to plan proactively rather than acting reactively – resulting in the best levels of care possible.

We’ve also developed and launched the platform across all other worker groups in addition to medics to support entire organisations and have launched Locum’s Nest Link, our interoperability product that allows for integration with any existing other pieces of software being used to make life as easy as possible for all Locum’s Nest users, from healthcare professionals to HR teams.

What can we hope to see from Locum’s Nest in the future?

There is no magic bullet to get innovation in the NHS; it is very much a people’s game.

We learnt that every trust is very different in its own right, but there are a lot of similarities that exist – the magic is to highlight what those similarities are. I have been to so many talks in the NHS and have shamelessly used the same quote over and over again that the NHS ‘has more pilots up and running than the RAF and the British Armed Forces combined’.

You really have to push for the similarities between trusts and show people why they are facing the same struggles; there might be something a trust down the road has already done that could help their neighbours as well. You just save so much time and energy sharing learnings which doesn’t always happen, unfortunately.

I would love to see an NHS where all doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physios all work together, across NHS Trust and organisation boundaries to make sure we live in a United Kingdom where the right healthcare worker can be at the right place, at the right time, in a way that’s as smooth and safe as possible.