Our vision: to transform access to medical care.

Loadmaster guide

In aviation the loadmaster is responsible for ensuring an aircraft is fully and efficiently laden for a balanced flight. In a similar way practice managers need to plan the clinicians’ rota to meet predicted demand.  We have learned that it is easier to predict demand than to ensure the right number of clinicians is there at the right time. Loadmaster is designed to make both tasks easy.  It covers sessions and has a day planner for experimenting – see also our Sample GP day.

Open the link on your practice page, on the menu bar choose “Edit in browser”.  Your changes are saved automatically, though sometimes you may see a slight delay with the online system.  If this persists, close the window and reopen from your link.

  1. Weekly rota sheet: list your GPs.  Place a 1 in each session the GP works (excluding pre booked sessions, eg minor surgery) and leave blank if absent. You may add nurse practitioners if they take patients directly referred from GP phone consultations, and any number for locum sessions. You may record trainees as a fractional session, eg 0.7.  Add the list size, reception opening time and record the morning start time of each GP.
  2. Output sheet: set and adjust variables.  All variables in blue may be edited. Default values are given, but try changing them to see the effects on workload, which can be dramatic.  Estimates of daily demand are based on dozens of practices and have proven to be accurate +/- about 10%.
  3. Adjust rota to match supply sessions to demand.  The output sheet shows you the difference between predicted demand and supply of sessions. A positive value shows green, 0 to -1 shows amber, below -1 shows red. You may get away with amber, as there is 15% flex built into the prediction (you may adjust the %), but red is likely to mean overwork. You need to adjust the rota to minimise the difference between demand and supply. This may mean asking one or more GPs to change sessions, but you can also add locums. The week overall shows amber if the difference is 0 to -2, red if more than -2.
  4. Refine demand predictions and adjust capacity.   A few  weeks after launch we can use actual values from Navigator to produce revised demand volumes.  You can toggle the use of estimated or actual demand when these become available. Better understanding of your consultation times and the resolve rate from telephone consultations helps make your system perform.
  5. Experiment with the Day Planner, example roles and templates you can adjust at will.  This is not connected to other sheets.
  6. Improve continuity by letting your patients know which day each doctor works. About half the time, patients choose a preferred doctor. Giving them the information saves you time on reception, and by improving continuity can reduce rework through repeat consultations. Everyone wins.  To help you do this see the Print sheet which you can copy & paste into your website and notice sheets.
  7. Reception planner.  Based on your predicted demand, and typical patterns through the working day, this gives an idea of how many receptionists and telephone lines are required by day and hour.  The load tends to have a high peak at opening time but beware, there is considerable variation between practices.