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North East London NHS trusts deploy digital tool for PPE management

07/05/20

Mark Say Managing Editor

A group of healthcare trusts around north-east London have begun to use a digital tool to manage their supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Doctor in PPE

It was developed by the estates team at the East London Health and Care Partnership (ELHCP) with digital public services consultancy FutureGov in response to the shortages of PPE caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and as an alternative to a time consuming system of using multiple spreadsheets.

The tool enables the trusts to collect information on stock levels through an app or on a computer, with just one account per hospital to prevent the appearance of conflicting updates. The site provides guidance on the information to be collected and an online form and feedback function.

Trust staff are able to view the information on submissions through a central dashboard, which also includes a prioritised view on which stock is at greater risk of running out.

Jack Dunmore, PPE lead at the estates team for the healthcare trusts, said: “Working collaboratively, we produced a quick digital solution for submissions and a web based dashboard, which helped make delivering patient care simpler and enabled important decisions to be made earlier than before.”

North East London NHS Foundation Trust began to use the tool about a month ago and it has now been picked up by all 11 trusts and GPs and community sites in the area.

Time saver

FutureGov said the early impact has included a reduction in time spent on collecting and disseminating the data and improved data accuracy.

Carolyn Manuel-Barkin, the company’s health director, said that while it was a bespoke development the tool is available for other trusts to pick up and it is planning to open source the code.

“We have been having conversations with others in London, where the reporting requirements are effectively the same, and we’ve had some initial conversations at a national level” she said.

An alternative version of the tool has been developed for community care providers. It includes different request and reporting fields reflecting the needs for different types of PPE, and a function showing site location to help users understand where equipment may be available within their area.

Post-pandemic

Manuel-Barkin said the tool is expected to have a purpose when the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

“The need for PPE is expected to continue into the foreseeable future,” she said. “NHS organisations are now building PPE into their recovery and restoration plans to ensure they can best meet the needs of their staff.

“Acute trusts are now doing well at getting PPE, and the priority now is more about meeting the demand from primary and community care.”

Image from Guy's and St Thomas NHS Trust

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