Business

Belfast start-up aims to cut £4 billion NHS agency staff bill with new software

Alan Watts from Halo (left) pictured with Michael Budden and Jonathan Clarke the creators of new software 'Locate a Locum'
Gareth McKeown

A BELFAST company is aiming to cut the hefty £4 billion NHS agency staff bill through a revolutionary new piece of software.

'Locate a Locum' - founded and based in Belfast, is hoping to reduce the health service's reliance on temporary members of staff, in the first instance providing a platform for pharmacies needing quick access to pharmacists.

The service is the brainchild of pharmacist Jonathon Clarke and developer Michael Budden, both from Belfast. To date it has secured funding of more than £500,000 to develop the innovative product.

The funding package has been led by TechStart NI, who provide support for early stage technology businesses, and also involves a number of private investors, including those from Halo, the Northern Ireland business angel network.

Since the platform went live, Locate a Locum has signed up thousands of pharmacists across the UK, and it services over 8,000 pharmacies, including big chains such as Boots.

"The platform is aimed initially at the pharmacy market as a pharmacy must have a registered pharmacist on the premises at all times. However, the capability to save the NHS, retail and community pharmacists' time, and more importantly money, is staggering," Mr Clarke said.

"The NHS currently spends £4 billion a year on agency fees. Locate a Locum can save the NHS an average of £105 per day for each temporary member of staff by using our efficient software solution.”

Alan Watts, director of Halo said the two "promising entrepreneurs" had found a "real gap in the market".

"The top four pharmacy chains alone have almost 50,000 locum days available per month so a lot of man power is required to ensure adequate cover is in place. The platform developed by Locate a Locum will ensure that this issue is a thing of the past," he added.

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