NHS Trust adopts speedy staff coms system

Staff at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Nottinghamshire are pioneering the use of a new communications system to improve patient care.

Staff at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Nottinghamshire are pioneering the use of a new communications system to improve patient care.

The BT system frees up more time for doctors and nurses by allowing them to communicate while still doing their job, instead of spending time finding a telephone, contacting each other using old-fashioned pager systems, or walking from one area of the hospital to another to find colleagues.

The Trust’s own research found that, on average, it took members of staff six and a half minutes to get hold of a colleague using a telephone and pager. Now, speaking to the right person can take just a few seconds.

The new system, called the BT Managed Vocera solution, operates over a BT wireless local area network. It allows users to speak to each other instantly anywhere in the hospital through a voice-controlled, wearable badge weighing less than two ounces.

Staff simply have to say a person's name, department or role to be automatically connected to the appropriate person, and can speak to them just like on a normal phone.

Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust initially trialled the system with 75 users in accident and emergency, radiology and medical admissions departments at Kings Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.

Currently, 1,200 hospital workers – from receptionists and porters to doctors, nurses and consultants – are communicating via the voice-controlled badges. 

Now the system is being rolled out Trust-wide – including Newark Hospital later this month – making it the biggest installation of a system of this kind by any UK hospital trust.

As well as making it easier for nurses to find and get advice from doctors, the device could help save lives by enabling medical staff to make faster contact in an emergency.

Phil Bolton, trauma and orthopaedic nurse specialist at King’s Mill Hospital, said, “We often need a second opinion from a colleague and previously, unless they were close at hand, we’d have to bleep them to make contact. BT Managed Vocera enables us to do that without leaving the patient’s side.”

The system, which can be integrated with an existing switchboard, is based on a BT wireless local area network and uses mobile voice over internet protocol technology to convert voice into IP packets, which can be transmitted over the network and reassembled into voice at the receiving device.

Related article: BT to offer smartphones to VoIP business users

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