A rapidly growing healthtech start-up on a mission to solve the NHS staffing crisis and bring flexible working to thousands of clinicians has secured £3m in a funding round led by Praetura Ventures. The round included additional backing from BMJ, the publisher behind The BMJ, and some existing angel investors.
Patchwork, which has offices in London, Manchester and Liverpool, was founded by NHS doctors Anas Nader and Jing Ouyang in 2016 to help hospitals fill vacant shifts more cost-effectively and to stem the tide of clinicians leaving the health service due to poor work-life balance.
Healthcare staffing is a growing and costly problem for the NHS; the number of staff quitting over long hours tripled between 2012 and 2018, and the NHS spent £2.4bn on staffing agencies in 2018 to fill the gaps.
Patchwork’s market-leading technology focuses on transforming the power of NHS Trusts to recruit temporary staff, cutting out the expensive agency middle man. Through tailored portals for NHS Trusts and a simple, hassle free app for clinicians, Patchwork is able to dramatically drive up the number of clinicians booking shifts directly with their hospital.
As a result, NHS Trusts keep their hiring in-house; saving millions in agency fees whilst ensuring wards are safely staffed. Plus, clinicians looking for more flexibility are able to take on shifts that suit them, improving retention and staff satisfaction, without creating a financial burden for their hospitals.
More than 10,000 clinicians across over 30 hospitals already use the Patchwork app, with over 1 million shift hours booked since launch.
This investment was led by Mark Lyons and Louise Chapman of Praetura Ventures. David Foreman, managing director of Praetura Ventures, will join the Patchwork board as a non-executive director.
Praetura Ventures, a firm committed to providing capital and strategic support to early-stage businesses across the north of England, has invested £1.9m in Patchwork as part of the £3m deal.
This funding will enable Patchwork to accelerate growth and foster partnerships with more NHS Trusts across England and Wales. With the support of the team at Praetura Ventures, Patchwork also plans to further invest in the development of its proprietary software to enable the roll out across different staff groups within the NHS and support future expansion into the GP and private medical sector.
Anas Nader, co-founder of Patchwork said, “Those best placed to solve the challenges facing our healthcare system are the people who have worked on the frontline. Jing and I both struggled to maintain a healthy work-life balance as junior doctors, and we watched countless colleagues step away from full-time practice and into the world of locum agencies as a result of the daily pressures faced by medics. We felt there must be a better way of doing things; one where the NHS could staff wards safely and affordably, and where healthcare workers could find the right working balance for them, without the need for an expensive middleman. That’s why we created Patchwork.
“We’re so proud of how widely our technology has already been embraced across the NHS and the impact we’re having on the lives of thousands of clinicians. We are therefore delighted to welcome Praetura Ventures as an investment partner. Their philosophy of providing not only financial support but strategic expertise is exactly what we were looking for. Their experience in the healthtech sector, alongside the continued support from BMJ, our partner, will also be crucial as we scale. We’re looking forward to partnering with them as we continue to save the NHS money and create a better work-life balance for healthcare workers at a critical time for our health service.”
Mark Lyons, director at Praetura Ventures added, “The staffing issues facing the NHS are never far from the headlines and there is a significant amount of political and social pressure to reduce costs and maintain quality of patient care. There’s no doubt that this is not an easy task, but Anas and Jing have established a business that is proven to help.”
Patchwork was initially launched in collaboration with Chelsea & Westminster NHS Foundation Trust. By working in partnership with the NHS, Patchwork has been able to develop proprietary software that improves efficiencies and enables NHS Trusts to increase the number of shifts booked by bank workers. Chelsea & Westminster Hospital saw 90% of shifts filled directly through the hospital’s own staff bank as a result of the Patchwork platform, compared with 35% when using legacy systems. This meant a cost-saving of over £1.2m per year.
“We were impressed by the amount of traction that Patchwork has gained in the market in such a short period of time and there are many more exciting opportunities for the business to explore in other areas of healthcare. We’re confident in the team that Anas and Jing have built and are looking forward to supporting them as they embark on the next stage of their growth strategy,” added Lyons.
Manchester-headquartered Praetura Ventures has raised over £50m from investors since its launch in 2011. Another high-profile, health-focused technology business backed by Praetura Ventures is Dr Fertility, the fertility-focused MedTech platform that is helping to address the problem of unreliable information about fertility.
Anca Babor, Director of Strategy at BMJ said, “We have been an early investor in Patchwork since 2018 and, as the first institutional investor, we are pleased to have been part of the Patchwork journey so far. The Patchwork team has achieved a lot in the past two years and we look forward to continuing to support their ambitious growth plans.”