April 24 2020

Locum's Nest

Forget Agencies

Dr Ahmed Al Shahrabani

My career path seemed pretty predictable. Born in Muscat in 1991, to a doctor and a pharmacist. Being a student at the British School Muscat between 1996 and 2009, studying almost exclusively Science at A-level, with little ability in anything creative. Reading Medicine at Sheffield University in the UK from 2009 to 2014. It seemed that, as anticipated, I was on a one-way ticket into the world of doctoring. But as a lot of things in life, not everything seems to work out the way you expect it.

Five years ago, on the medical wards of St Helier Hospital in South London each week played out like clockwork. Come Friday, the rota manager would come down to the wards and ask me, my fellow junior doctor Nick, and the rest of the doctors on the wards if we minded picking up an extra shift over the weekend because of a rota gap. We were fresh out of medical school and at that time didn’t feel comfortable taking on extra work (despite the extra pocket money!). However, our poor colleagues at the hospital would then need to resort to a barrage of phone calls, emails, texts and bleeps, begging doctors they knew to cover the weekend shift. If they couldn’t get one of them to agree, they would have to resort to locum recruitment agencies, a very expensive process both in time and money.

We were troubled by this process and thought there must be a better way. Nick and I spent the next year developing a mobile platform which provided doctors with the autonomy and flexibility to choose when they worked additional shifts, all at the palm of their hands. It was such a simple solution. This was the beginning of Locum’s Nest.

In the summer of 2016, we decided to leave the world of medicine and enter the realms of healthcare technology. We launched in our first hospital with just 5 doctors on the app. Three years later, we are working with hundreds of hospitals and clinics across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and over 30,000 doctors are using our app. To-date, the platform has saved the NHS £70 million and has provided 1.5 million hours of patient care: hours that correspond to over half a million operations and nine million clinic appointments.

We live in a world where an ever-growing shortage of doctors has led to increased waiting times, delayed diagnoses of serious illness, poorer patient outcomes, and decreasing faith in the health service. Our aim is to leverage technology to create a healthcare ecosystem with absolute workforce mobility for our staff, reducing vacancies, saving money and ultimately leading to better patient outcomes. We believe we can save £1bn by 2022 across the UK and Ireland, and improve patient safety on the way.

Europe aside, I truly believe Oman has an incredible amount of untapped potential with the ability of becoming a healthcare leader in the Gulf of Arabia. However, the Sultanate currently relies on external training of medical personnel to provide quality health care services in every Wilayat. The Ministry of Health sources doctors via the Ministry of Manpower, external agents and adverts on their website. The Ministry has come to realise that the current method is inefficient.

Locum’s Nest can be adapted to benefit Omani hospitals by granting them access to specialist UK doctors. By allowing UK doctors to come to Oman for 1-3 months of clinical placements, we can help transfer knowledge from specialist UK doctors, focusing on primary areas of medicine required in Oman.

The hospital on Masirah Island is as stunning as the island itself – why not start there.

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