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West Suffolk Hospital leading pager ban

West Suffolk has been held up a national example by the Health Secretary for a new initiative to remove pagers from the NHS.

Matthew Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, announced on Friday (22 February) that all NHS trusts will be required to phase out pagers by the end of 2021, with staff instead using modern alternatives, such as mobile phones and apps.

The West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) pilot project of communications app ‘Medic Bleep’, which saved junior doctors an average 48 minutes per shift and nurses 21 minutes, was held up by Mr Hancock as a national example for other trusts to follow.

A recent Medic Bleep time-motion study showed this time-saving could equate to 10,844 full-time nurses per year across the whole country if every NHS ward nurse in the UK used Medic Bleep.

Now the Trust is close to phasing out all non-emergency bleeps across its West Suffolk Hospital site.

WSFT medical director, Nick Jenkins, said: “As a global digital exemplar trust, we’re always keen to explore new digital opportunities that could improve experience for staff and patients.

“For us, Medic Bleep is very much about using a digital tool to help our communications become more efficient. Contact with other clinicians can be made much more easily than with a physical bleep, and responses are much quicker. All that time we save can be spent caring for patients, so we benefit, but more importantly, our patients benefit too.”

Medic Bleep, created by Medic Creations, is a mobile messaging system that replaces pager-based systems and transforms the whole communications process. The system operates across mobile phones, tablets and computers to facilitate instant, information governance-compliant communication with features tailored for healthcare professionals to deliver enhanced patient care. It increases the efficiency of the staff communication flow, improves the patient-clinician experience and reduces staff frustration.

Dr Sandeep Bansal, CEO and founder of Medic Creations, said: “As a clinician myself and through my personal experience of managing nursing homes, it has always been important to me that our solution is grounded in a strong evidence base and can show real value to the NHS and social care. Medic Bleep can help doctors and nurses get on with what they do best – caring for their patients – while improving efficiency in the NHS.

“However, this isn’t just a case of replacing the pager with Medic Bleep, as this is a change to the communications and operational processes within an NHS trust or healthcare system. It also requires strong IT infrastructure to be in place, which can take time to get right.

“We’re delighted with the progress being made at West Suffolk, but are excited about what further improvements we can make to support the Trust, staff and patients.”

Removing pagers brings a number of benefits to NHS staff:

  • Pagers only offer a one-way form of communication. The recipient is unaware who is contacting them, the reasons why, or the level of urgency. This can interrupt work, waste time, make the prioritisation of tasks difficult and the evidence trail of communications is limited.
    • Pagers do not support the sharing of information between staff on the move. Mobile phones and apps are able to do all of this more quickly and at a reduced cost.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Every day, our wonderful NHS staff work incredibly hard in what can be challenging and high-pressured environments. The last thing they need are the frustrations of having to deal with outdated technology – they deserve the very best equipment to help them do their jobs.

“We have to get the basics right, like having computers that work and getting rid of archaic technology like pagers and fax machines. Email and mobile phones are a more secure, quicker and cheaper way to communicate which allow doctors and nurses to spend more time caring for patients rather than having to work round outdated kit.

“We want to build a health and care service which is fully able to harness the huge potential of technology. This will save lives, support hard-working staff and deliver the cutting-edge care set out by our Long Term Plan for the NHS.

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Staff on ward using Medic Bleep

Staff on ward using Medic Bleep