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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.

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.

More than 10,000 clinicians across over 30 hospitals already use the Patchwork app, with over 1 million shift hours booked since launch.

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. 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 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, said: “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 Mark.

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.”

This funding will enable Patchwork to accelerate  growth and foster partnerships with more NHS Trusts across England and Wales.