Praetura Ventures leads £3m funding round for Patchwork Health

[L-R] Dr Jing Ouyang and Dr Anas Nader, Patchwork

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 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.”

Irwin Mitchell LLP provided legal advice to Praetura Ventures, with commercial due diligence provided by PMSI and technical due diligence by Intechnia.

Patchwork was advised by Invictus Strategy Associates.