Alpha Hospitals focuses on service users, by letting Swift Shift focus on optimising staff schedules

Alpha Hospitals is one of the UK’s leading providers of low and medium secure mental health care facilities and services. The company was established in 2002, with purpose built, state of the art hospitals in Bury in Greater Manchester, Sheffield in South Yorkshire and Woking in Surrey, providing an extensive range of psychiatric care for people with mental health conditions and learning difficulties. The specialist mental health services, which are gender specific, include personality disorders, mental illness, rehabilitation, Deaf, and CAMHS Tier 4.

Alpha Hospitals works in partnership with the NHS and is committed to providing outstanding levels of service to patients and partners, that is flexible and needs led based on the individuals requirements. 

Delivering high quality care required change 

Operating a mental health service, the hospital needs to effectively schedule and deploy highly skilled workers with a mix of complex skills across a 24 hour a day/7 days a week business. When Alpha Hospitals is unable to cover an open shift with permanent or bank employees they have no choice but to use temporary agency workers.

Alpha Hospitals spent two years assessing their business and what was needed to continue their leadership in mental health care delivery. Deep analysis found their managers were losing close to 20% of their time each week creating schedules, manage shift requests, and phoning around to find cover for short notice shift gaps. Manual, paper based, schedules and no system to manager permanent or bank employee availability made it difficult to create optimised schedules based on skills mix and contract hours. The result was an increasing temporary agency bill, which also had a major impact on quality of care.

It was clear that better deployment of current staff and a way to better engage bank staff would quickly drive up quality of care and drive down agency costs. A software system to support this initiative was sought. The system would need to be simple enough for anyone to use, flexible enough to match their complex skills mix, and robust enough to meet their needs. Alpha Hospitals chose SWIFT SHIFT for just these reasons.

Simplicity meets effectiveness to deliver Alpha Hospitals real business value 

SWIFT SHIFT Scheduler® is allowing Alpha Hospitals to reduce time managers spent creating schedules, managing requests, and covering shifts through providing employees with a self-service portal. Managers no longer balance a stack of papers with holiday requests, shift requests, availability, and staff skill mix. Now, the employee enters in real-time their availability and any shift requests they may have. Not only do Alpha Hospitals managers spend less time on the request, the system also increases accuracy of holiday requests and shift changes.

Employee self-service availability drives the SWIFT SHIFT Scheduler. Instead of spending hours with pen and paper to create a rota, managers simply click a button. SWIFT SHIFT connects companies and employees together making it easy to use staff with available contract hours across different wards. 

Communication features like a forum and SMS allow managers and employees to quickly offer and accept shifts. 

SWIFT SHIFT Scheduler provides Alpha Hospitals, for the first time, the ability to manage their bank staff in one system. Communication is the biggest hurdle to an effective bank staff program. SWIFT SHIFT gives bank staff the ability to access the self-service portal to update availability, request open shifts, and communicate directly with staffing/bank coordinators and managers.

Swift set up equals swift results

After implementing SWIFT SHIFT, Alpha Hospitals reduced their temporary agency spend by 20% in just the first few months. Permanent staff and bank staff are now more engaged, resulting in greater shift cover. Managers are spending less time on scheduling and more time on the floor, resulting in greater productivity and quality of care. 

Alpha Hospitals is continuing to grow, adding new wards and services. They are confident SWIFT SHIFT provides the right system to support their operational focus of delivering high quality care. 


“With SWIFT SHIFT we can ensure that our patients receive the best treatment, that our employees are in control of their schedules and that we are always in compliance with the CQC requirements for staffing”. Karen Callard.