The first phase of a high tech tracking system is in place at the Countess of Chester Hospital that will mean the location and status of patients, staff and equipment is known at any moment in time.
More than 4,000 infra-red sensors are being fitted above beds, doorways and even on hand gel dispensers that can read electronic chips in patient wristbands, staff security cards and tags on equipment.
The pioneering national pilot scheme – the first in the country – is being deployed at the Countess’ sites in Liverpool Road, Chester, and at Ellesmere Port Hospital.
And the first phase is operational according to the July edition of ‘Countess Matters’ which says the computer-controlled system can now request porters to carry out certain tasks via handheld devices. Porters are given all the information they need to prepare for each job and spend less time waiting for patients to be ready.
All tasks are logged, which the Countess says will monitor ‘how hard they work’.
Countess managers hope the measures will increase transparency and personal accountability in how the hospital works but have attempted to reassure staff it is not driven by a Big Brother motivation.
Teletracking is part of the Countess’ aspiration to be The Model Hospital based on the 2015 Lord Carter review of the NHS. The main aim is to free up beds by reducing length of stay per patient through improving patient flow.
Countess chief executive Tony Chambers wrote in the magazine: “I would like to recognise our porters for their patience as pioneers of the new teletracking system. Teletracking represents a giant step towards greater transparency, efficiency and effectiveness and it is fitting that our porters should lead the way in this advancement.”
Among the other claimed benefits of the tracking system are:
■ A security system triggers an immediate alert if a vulnerable patient goes astray
■ Sensors on hand gel dispensers encourage a hand hygiene culture
■ An alarm is triggered if a colleague mistakenly walks off with keys to a drug cupboard
■ Relatives concerned about staff attentiveness can be reassured with reference to the data
■ Staff will have the option to trigger an alarm in the event of a personal safety issue
■ Keeping tabs on expensive equipment
■ Tracing key staff members during a major incident
An internal bulletin reassures staff the system is not about checking up on them. It reads: “This is about making our jobs easier, knowing where people are and working more safely. We are not interested in spying or snooping on colleagues at any given point in time. We trust our staff and know that our people come to work here every day for the right reasons.”