2 junior doctors raised $4 million from the BMJ and other backers to tackle the NHS staffing crisis


Anas Nader and Jing Ouyang, cofounders of healthtech startup Patchwork

  • Patchwork is a healthtech startup founded by two junior doctors who say they struggled to maintain a work-life balance working for the UK’s NHS.
  • The NHS spent £2.4 billion on staffing agencies to help fill staffing gaps as doctors increasingly moved away from full-time work. 
  • One hospital using the Patchwork app saw the number of clinician shifts filled almost triple – from 35% to 90%. 
  • The firm is backed by the BMJ, one of the oldest medical journals in the world, and Praetura Ventures. 
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Patchwork, a healthtech startup aiming to solve the NHS staffing crisis, has raised £3 million ($4 million) in a funding round backed by the BMJ and Praetura Ventures. 

The BMJ, one of the world’s oldest medical journals, said the firm had “achieved a lot” since it was founded in 2016.

Patchwork helps the NHS deliver savings by filling vacant clinician shifts more efficiently. In 2018, the health service spent £2.4 billion on staffing agencies to help fill the gaps. 

Patchwork cofounders launched the startup after both struggled to maintain a “healthy work-life balance”.

“We watched countless colleagues step away from full-time practice and into the world of locum agencies,” said Nader. “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 balance for them, without the need for an expensive middleman.” 

By offering NHS Trusts tailored online portals and clinician a simple “hassle-free” app, Patchwork says it can dramatically drive up the number of medics booking shifts directly with their hospitals. At present, over 10,000 clinicians are using the app across more than 30 hospitals. 

In one example, Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London saw 90% of shifts filled where staff had been signed up to the Patchwork app. That was almost triple the previous high (35%) from when the hospital used legacy systems. It saved the hospital around £1.2 million for the year. 

Nader added: “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.” 

Mark Lyons, director at Praetura Ventures, said: “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.”

Anca Babor, director of strategy at BMJ, added: “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.”

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