The NHS is seeking to reduce costs whilst preserving essential levels of patient care. A key approach to achieving this goal is the merging of different services and even complete Trusts.
With the merger of NHS Trusts comes the significant challenge of ensuring any shared services cater for the needs of all the departments and facilities relying upon them. This is equally important when it comes to critical infrastructure such as communications systems.
A newly combined NHS Foundation Trust identified the need to merge all its communications systems from the two previous Trusts, into one centrally controlled hub. To achieve this, it turned to its chosen service partners to oversee the transition.
Paging systems are a vital part of the communications mix and are used right across all the hospital services, as the Trust’s FM Manager explains, “We have mobile phone penetration issues at some locations due to the equipment in place, so paging is a sure way of getting hold of people and is the preferred method for many team members.”
The FM Manager continued, “Pagers are used by medical staff, ancillary staff, porters, domestic services and Pharmacy staff, and teams moving equipment and making deliveries. The Pharmacy team are particularly heavy paging users as they are involved across many departments and often need to be contacted with great urgency.”
Having analysed the needs of the new combined Trust, it was assessed that a further 110 paging users from a newly incorporated site would need to be added to the 600 already being used, through one integrated communications and paging system.
As well as its daily communications traffic, the new Trust identified the need for a shared centralised alarms and Majax communications solution. With the amalgamation of the two Trusts, there was also a need to link several legacy communications systems and to ensure these all worked between different sites across the new Trust.
Maintel specified the powerful Multitone i-Message unified messaging system for critical communications, technology relied across the NHS. The new solution has been designed to provide a centralised and flexible communications hub with full resilience built in.
During a Majax situation all relevant communications are routed via the Multitone i-Message to one central switchboard, ensuring the situation and staff/teams involved can be overseen and managed effectively.
The Trust’s FM Manager commented, “The team from Multitone were excellent, taking the time to understand the site, our needs and requirements. Obviously, there are things that happen that you don’t expect, but they were brilliant, sharing their knowledge and giving us all the support we needed.”
With Multitone’s i-Message, all the paging and various communications systems used by the team can now be seamlessly used across all the sites of the new Trust, with no disruption to staff or patient care. With the incorporation of all the emergency alarms, the communications for any incident (large or small) can be effectively managed from one location, with a complete overview of who has been messaged and answered the alert.
The Trust is now looking at further uses for its new unified messaging systems, including incorporating smart devices into the network using Multitone’s Appear communications app. Appear securely and reliably connects these devices to the other communications systems on the network (such as pagers and DECT handsets), protecting sensitive data by ‘sandboxing’ it within the app.
The Trust is also looking at using the Multitone i-Message for its corporate non-critical communications and for overseeing and managing Lockdown procedures, as the FM Manager concluded, “We believe we have the facilities onsite to activate a Lockdown using i-Message, which would send messages to pagers, mobiles and even computer screens – so we are excited to be exploring the potential uses for this moving forward.”