Charles Armitage on putting healthcare workers in control

Dr. Charles Armitage, CEO at Florence, discusses putting healthcare workers in control of their shifts & the impact extreme heat is having on healthcare

Hi Charles, please introduce yourself and your role.

“I am Dr. Charles Armitage, the Co-Founder and CEO at Florence.”


What led you to become a doctor?

“Helping people and working towards a better world has always been my inspiration. After I graduated as a doctor in 2012, I had the opportunity to work in a lot of different areas of the NHS from A&E to surgery and I loved working for the NHS.”

Why did you decide to leave this role and found Florence?

“I enjoyed working for the NHS, and I had my sights set on being a surgeon for the remainder of my career. But ultimately working in the NHS became this frustrating challenge as it was difficult to fight against such a big system, which was difficult to change or help solve some of the challenges. While working for the NHS, we had these recruitment agencies in the middle, where workers would sign up to them and they'd send you to places you didn't necessarily want to go. You didn't have much choice over it. I thought there was a gap here, there was so much untapped potential for the sector to fill the gaps and fix the problems. 

“The aim of Florence is to directly connect care professionals with shifts so they’re in control of where they work, rather than middlemen who take a huge cut. When you put people in control of their working lives, they’re happier in their careers and are more likely to keep their vital skills in the sector, rather than leave.”


How does Florence help healthcare professionals?

“Florence is a company built to provide extensive support and care to the service workers in the healthcare industries. We are developing an end-to-end workforce system that allows the care provider to hire, train, onboard and roster staff within this platform and then use it to fill all the shift vacancies. The idea is if you’ve got the whole working system under one umbrella it is easier to get the right people to their shifts at the right time and ultimately deliver higher-quality care.”


Tell us about the impact extreme heat is having on healthcare.

“The extreme heat has affected the vast majority of people. The long wait times have been a serious cause for concern for many. The NHS is already underfunded and overworked so when you add extreme heat into the mix everything gets worse. When we have heat waves in the UK everything slows down, except in the NHS, where we have more patients and less staff so things just get more difficult to manage.”


What is the greatest challenge healthcare faces today?

“I think one of the major challenges in this industry is the lack of understanding towards the ‘change’ required in the system. The current focus is on how to make it easier for the patients to access healthcare and how to reduce the cost of the same. Really we should be looking at how the NHS is going to make it through this winter, and beyond. The government needs to implement a sustainable, long term strategy to ensure that the NHS can withstand the challenges that it faces not just now but in 10 years time. The whole sector is on its knees and it needs a complete overhaul to ensure that we don’t lose important people to other industries.”


During your time working in the healthcare industry, what has been your biggest lesson?

“One of the biggest mistakes that we made when we first started Florence was that we tried to run before we could walk. When we started we had around £25,000 to start this tech platform that was going to fix the NHS, which we soon realised was totally unrealistic. We had an idea of what we wanted the app to do, but we didn’t do any product testing or anything so when they delivered the product, it just didn't work and all our money was gone so we had to just start again.”


What do the next 12 months hold for you and Florence?

“We ultimately want to fix the broken NHS and social care system, we know we’re not going to achieve this in the next year but we’re going to try. We have so exciting ideas and announcements that will be coming very soon which we hope will start making steps towards our goals in the long term. We have a growing team at Florence and we are constantly working with our users to make our platform better.”


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