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Tel: 01506 418198


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25th June, 2013

“Multitone has definitely met our expectations. The company is a reliable partner with superb products and support, whilst offering a competitive price in today’s marketplace.”

Paddy Graffin, Head of Estates, HSCNI 

Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland (HSCNI) provides a broad range of health and social care services for people across the local council areas of Antrim, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Carrickfergus, Coleraine, Cookstown, Larne, Magherafelt, Moyle and Newtownabbey. HSCNI runs two main A&E departments, Antrim Area which covers the south of the region and Causeway which covers the northern region. Like any large health authority, HSCNI relies upon excellent communications to enable the smooth running of operations and maintenance of timely and essential services that provide care for some of the most vulnerable members of society. To enable this, HSCNI relies upon the expertise of critical healthcare communications specialist, Multitone, to provide highly reliable and cost-effective paging, DECT and alarm monitoring as well as the recent installation of the company’s EkoTek alarm system at the Trust’s Causeway Ross Thompson Mental Health unit and A&E department.

The installation of Multitone’s EkoTek system is part of a wider consolidation of communications, as Paddy Graffin, Head of Estates at HSCNI elaborated, “As part of our duty of care to patients and our responsibility to protect our staff, the Trust made the decision to implement a system that can alert security personnel of a problem or potential problem so they can be dispatched to prevent or deal with it. We put the project out to tender and chose Multitone and EkoTek because the solution seamlessly integrates with our existing communications network and also because we have an excellent long-standing relationship with the company - which has proven to be a highly reliable and supportive partner. Multitone has been our internal paging provider for over 20 years and we have an excellent working relationship – which is essential when providing communications that are essential to critical care in an acute hospital environment.”

The EkoTek installation is part of a much wider communications ecosystem which is based around an installation of Multitone’s Access 3000 centrally organised and controlled paging system. Access 3000 is used for the essential communications within the Antrim Area and Causeway sites and is at the heart of the 24-hour switchboards for each facility. It also enables a backup whereby either site can take over the critical operations of the other in the event of an emergency. Paddy Graffin explains, “Many of our staff rely upon pagers. For example, we have a cardiac arrest team, maternity response teams anaesthetic teams spread out throughout the hospital, so if something happens they can be bleeped internally from a click on the screen in the control room. The whole process is enabled directly through the Multitone Access 3000 system.”

As well as paging, Access 3000 also supports communications to DECT phones, offering support to an essential part of the hospitals’ communication mix. DECT is widely used across the facilities as a primary source of contact for many members of staff – with over 160 users across the main Causeway and Antrim sites, including porters, social workers and ward sisters. Paddy Graffin added, “Our porters rely upon the DECT system, having moved away from paging that was used in the past. Previously they would get a call which would come into the porters’ supervisor and they would have to page a porter directly. However, by using the DECT system we can contact the porter right away with the cordless handsets, - making it quicker to contact the member of staff and removing the need for them to find a phone to receive further details. So if we know that a porter is in that area we can say direct them accordingly, saving valuable time. Equally, the DECT facility has proved its worth for our social worker team. On the main Antrim site they all carry DECT  phones, enabling them to carry out patient’s needs at the bedside rather than having to run backward and forward to the nurses’ station. The DECT phones also enable the Ward Sisters to work freely around the hospital – each member of the team has an extension number and the ability to dial out to the outside world. The other beauty of the DECT system is that if there is a failure of main telecommunications system, the DECT system keeps running by using its own small network internally – so our teams still have a phone network and the wards can easily contact each other.”

Additionally, Multitone’s Centinel alarm monitoring application is installed at the Causeway, Antrim Area, Mid Ulster, Whiteabbey Hospital, Holywell Hospital and Braid Valley Hospital sites. As well as staff security alerts, Centinel also monitors for other emergencies such other potential issues with environmental controls or refrigeration systems and storage areas. Paddy Graffin commented, “The two control rooms at our main acute main sites at Antrim Area and Causeway display all the alarms for all the other hospital sites. So for an example if there is a failure on the Causeway site we can see the alarms for all the other sites on the Antrim site and likewise if there was an issue on the Antrim site we can see from Causeway. This gives us a resilient backup even though they are 40 miles apart. We can see the all the alarms from both sites – from fire alarms to critical alarms to system alarms and detecting any system failures we can see all the alarms on the system panel. It gives us an excellent overview, even detecting where doors are not closed or equipment failure that may be missed by staff on their rounds.”

Working with Multitone as a specialist in critical healthcare communications, along with a long-standing relationship of trust, has given HSCNI the confidence to use its communications systems and rely upon them with full peace of mind. Paddy Graffin concludes, “Multitone has definitely met our expectations. The company is a reliable partner with superb products and support, whilst offering a competitive price in today’s marketplace. Due to the success of our current systems we are looking at the possibility of using the new Multitone i-Message product as a possible future direction for us. Without the support of Multitone and its products running our internal communications would be very difficult, particularly in an emergency environment. We have been particularly impressed with Multitone’s customer service and the account management, which has been an integral part of our highly beneficial relationship.”

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