NHS Legal Services department adopts voice recognition


NHS Legal Services department adopts voice recognition

Clare McDonald

NHS Wales Legal & Risk Services has adopted speech recognition software to accelerate its legal correspondence processes and cut payroll costs.

The department previously used transcribed dictations recorded on analogue tapes.


NHS Wales Legal and Risk Services provides legal advice and documentation for the Wales NHS trusts and Health Boards. Much of the work it produces is time-sensitive, which previously required the organisation to hire temporary staff.

Ruth Baillie, Business Manager, NHS Wales Legal & Risk Services, said: “We’ve made further savings now because we’re not using any temporary secretaries, but in addition we haven’t had to employ further secretaries that at the time we estimated we needed.”

The department chose digital dictation and speech recognition software from BigHand.  

This is not the first NHS department to adopt speech recognition technology. In 2013 the pathology department at Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust began using voice dictation software from Nuance to streamline tissue sample analysis, increasing the turnaround time of pathology samples by 60%.

“The introduction of speech recognition has freed up secretarial time, allowing secretaries to develop their skills by providing additional administrative support to the solicitors,” Baillie said.

“This has been a substantial investment made by NHS Wales Legal & Risk Services but it has undoubtedly been a worthwhile investment as we continue to reap the benefits.”


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