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NHS England backs new round of wireless trials


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Hospital helipad
The Manchester University NHS helipad, one facility that could benefit from a new wireless network
Image source: NHS England

Five projects run by seven NHS trusts on the use of new wireless technologies have won shares of £1 million from NHS England.

It has allocated the money under its Wireless Trials programme, saying it is aimed at improving patient care and freeing up time for staff to spend with patients.

One project involves Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust trialing a new approach of combining satellite and cloud based wireless solutions to enhance connectivity across its 10 hospital sites and wider community services.

In another, Mid Cheshire and Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS trusts will use the funding to install wireless trackers on medical equipment and hospital beds. This will enable real time monitoring and location tracking so that staff can easily find what they need, when they need it.

The North West and East of England ambulance services trusts will roll out improved wireless connections in accident and emergency and ambulance areas, speeding up the transfer of patient care data from ambulances to hospitals.

Patient notes app

Another project, run by Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, will introduce a new app that allows staff to take observations on tablets and smartphones by a patient’s bedside, reducing the time spent typing up patient notes and providing more time to spend with patients.

A further trial at the Countess of Chester NHS Foundation Trust will wirelessly link modern diagnostic devices with the trust’s electronic patient records system, speeding up assessment time for patients.

Stephen Koch, executive director of platforms at NHS England, said: “I have been impressed with the innovative ideas coming from the system and we are delighted to be able to award this funding to the successful trialists to develop new or improved wireless solutions for the NHS.

“We’ll be monitoring the outcomes of the trials and are very hopeful that a number of these will be able to be scaled more broadly across the health and social care system saving clinical time, improving patient care and saving money for the system.”

Fast network

Dan Prescott, group chief information officer at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “With the wireless trial we’re aiming to create a reliable, fast and secure network access solution to address unexpected connectivity issues, even in areas of poor connectivity. This is vital in supporting key initiatives for our staff and giving our patients the best possible care.”

Previous wireless trials included the development of University College London Hospitals’ Find and Treat service, which uses high tech tools and software to provide real time remote diagnosis and referrals on board a mobile health unit. The service provides remote screening, testing and treatment for vulnerable, homeless, and high risk people in London.

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