News round-up: Estates and facilities management

Read on for our weekly round-up of the latest developments in the healthcare estates and facilities management sector

TRANSPORT: Vehicle accreditation first for ambulance trust

SOUTH Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SCAS) has become one of just 11 companies and the only ambulance trust to date to achieve a prestigious vehicle accreditation. The awarding of the Freight Transport Association’s Van Excellence accreditation demonstrates the trust’s commitment to safe, efficient and sustainable operations across its fleet of 800 emergency and non-emergency vehicles.

Rick Stillman, head of fleet at SCAS, said: “I am delighted that, thanks to the efforts of all involved, SCAS has achieved Van Excellence accreditation. If vehicles aren’t maintained to the highest possible standards, our staff and the public we serve could be put in danger. This accreditation reassures both government and the public we serve that we are constantly and continually addressing those issues that concern them.”

LANDSCAPING: Plans unveiled for wildlife haven at Preston unit

GUILD Park, a secure inpatient service in Preston, is set to be transformed in an environmental project that will benefit staff and residents and create a haven for local wildlife. The estates and facilities team at the unit will work in conjunction with occupational therapy practitioners, residents and staff on a conservation project that will transform the grounds into a hub of environmental activity. There are plans to build nature trails, a pond and poly-tunnels to provide fruit and vegetables as well as plans to house bats, bees, chickens, hedgehogs, birds and owls.

Lynne Potter, office manager of estates and facilities at Guild Park, said: “The project will bring people together and promote an active and engaging lifestyle as well as benefitting local wildlife and the environment. It will also provide fresh produce to be used at Guild Park, which will promote healthy eating and living. Any extra produce will be sold to provide extra income for the project.” It is hoped the nature trail, pond, vegetable plots and animal habitats will be completed by spring 2012.

TELECOMS: New phone system will not lead to job losses

OFFICIALS at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust have assured staff there will be no redundancies when a new automated telephone system becomes operational next year. Instead it is hoped the new system will help telephonists by freeing up time for them to speak with callers for longer.

Joanne Yale, the trust’s head of facilities, said: “I know that major improvements are needed in our telephone systems so that we offer a better service to our patients and their relatives. Our current system is obsolete and within the next two years there is a good chance it will be beyond repair. Too many calls go unanswered, which causes frustration and anxiety for people trying to find out about their appointment or about their loved ones.”

WAYFINDING: £50k investment at Inverness hospital

NHS Highland is spending £50,000 on new signage at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness so patients and visitors can find their way around after complaints about people getting lost. Donna Smith, the hospital’s general manager for patient services division, said: “Since the hospital was built, the building has continued to expand and our approach has been to provide additional signs, which has led to over 300 signs in a 200m corridor. The project, which covers both internal and external signs, is to ensure our patients have a much better experience when coming into the hospital from the moment they are on site. The hospital will be split into 10 zones and our aim is to have patients and staff coming in the correct door and getting to the right department in a timely, efficient and effective way.”

COMMUNICATIONS: Patient feedback pilot launched

BROOMFIELD Hospital in Essex has been chosen to be part of an eight-week pilot scheme exploring a new way for patients to give feedback on their stays. The scheme, sponsored by the Department of Health, enables patients to give feedback to the NHS Choices comment and feedback service, through the Hospedia bedside units.

Russell Harrison, chief operating officer at Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, said: “We are always seeking new ways of getting feedback from our patients, so we are delighted to be part of this pilot scheme. This will enable patients to leave real-time feedback while they are in their hospital bed, ensuring they have the option of commenting throughout their healthcare experience.”

The pilot will allow NHS Choices and Patient Opinion to analyse the effectiveness and take-up of the comment and feedback functionality via a new channel, which targets patients at the point of care. Hospital staff will also benefit from having an up-to-date source of reliable information that they can direct patients to for further reading and information on their treatment or condition.

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