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Goodbye to beeping pagers

It’s fair to say that technology has become embedded in our everyday lives.

Whether using a satnav or even Google Maps on your phone to get you from A to B, or looking up the weather predictions for a fortnight’s time, we use technology every day to help plan and make our lives easier.

Some of the technologies being explored across the world are also quite extraordinary. Researchers in Boston are looking at tech that can help a car to ‘see’ around corners using rotating laser beams, that theoretically would allow the car to spot hazards around a bend before the car has even gone around it. And in Toronto a tech-centred city, or ‘sensing city’ as it’s being called, is being explored where robots will roam underground doing chores like delivering the mail.

The NHS is making some great technology strides too. The new NHS App provides a simple and secure way for people to access a range of NHS services on their smartphone or tablet, and some GPs and hospital trusts (our own included) are exploring how they can utilise technology to do consultations digitally where appropriate, almost like a Skype or Facetime appointment, to save patients having to travel unnecessarily.

But in some ways, the NHS is still way behind the rest of the world in its use of technology and you might actually be surprised about something of the things that we don’t already do as standard. Last year we worked with our colleagues over at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge to allow clinicians at either site to access clinical information on a patient that’s held at the other trust. This was the first link in the UK between hospitals’ electronic health record systems that were provided by two different suppliers, but most patients in our care assume we can automatically access information on them held by other hospitals or their GP. We can’t currently in most cases, but as a global digital exemplar Trust we’re working on it and fully intend to be at the front of the pack!

The Government have taken a stand on outdated NHs technology; you might have seen the announcements about pagers, or bleeps as we call them, needing to be removed from the NHS by the end of 2021. I was exceptionally proud that our Trust was held up as a national example for others to follow, as we’re already well on our way to removing non-emergency bleeps through a fantastic app called ‘Medic Bleep’.

The app improves real-time communication between our clinicians, which means they no longer have to ‘bleep’ a number and wait by a phone for someone to call them back. This really isn’t technology for technology’s sake; in our trial of the app it saved our junior doctors an average of 48 minutes per shift, and our nurses 21 minutes per shift. The time they save can be put into what they love and do best – caring for patients. So we benefit, but our patients benefit too.

We’ve been very lucky at WSFT that our technology ambitions have always been supported and embraced by our staff, even when it’s meant major changes in processes. We’ve also been lucky that that support has extended from our local MPs, Jo Churchill and Matthew Hancock, who have always been behind us in our ventures to improve and focus on technology.

We certainly like to dream big where tech and digital advancements are concerned, and I look forward to seeing what the next few years not only brings us, but brings our community and our patients. For those of you that do visit us, you’ll now be able to harness our much-improved, more reliable and quicker connecting patient and visitor Wi-Fi. A small gain I know, but one that we hope will make patients’ experiences with us that little bit better by allowing them to stay in touch with the outside world.

Until next month.


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Chief executive, Steve Dunn

Chief executive, Steve Dunn