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

UTILITIES: Heating overhaul at Maidstone Hospital

THE heating system at Maidstone Hospital in Kent is set to be replaced to reduce maintenance costs and save energy. Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust has already installed six EasiHeat steam-to-water plate heat exchangers (PHEs) in various extensions around the hospital and now plans to replace the conventional calorifiers in the main building with two 1000kW EasiHeat systems. Larry David, mechanical engineer at the trust, said: "I'm confident the EasiHeats are up to the job because the ones we've already got have given us no cause for concern. For us, the main benefit is that they remove the necessity to strip down the calorifiers every two years for insurance inspections. We are also hoping to save some energy because PHEs are highly efficient."

TRANSPORT: Patients urged to back 24/7 helipad in Portsmouth

When someone is having a heart attack time is critical, so it's important they get here quickly. Changing the restrictions on landings could save lives

CONSULTANT cardiologists at Portsmouth's Queen Alexandra Hospital are urging local residents to support plans to allow night-time helipad landings. Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has submitted a planning application to remove an 8am-6pm landing restriction in a drive to enable heart attack patients to access treatment as quickly as possible. Richard Jones, consultant cardiologist and chief of medicine at the trust, said: "When someone is having a heart attack time is critical, so it's important they get here quickly. Changing the restrictions on landings could save lives."

TELECOMS: Telephone triage system piloted at Greater Manchester GP surgery

A TELEPHONE triage system where doctors first assess patients' symptoms over the phone is being trialed at a GP surgery in Greater Manchester. Doctors at the Simpson Medical Practice in Moston say the Patient Response System allows them to help three times as many patients in a day. Dr Washik Parkar, the surgery's clinical lead, said: "We want to ease the pressure on the frontline and this system seems to be helping. It could potentially have massive implications nationally. Ninety per cent of the old-fashioned diagnosis is on a patient's history; we don't need to physically see them to do that. I am not saying it will work for everyone, but I think the old way doesn't work. This is a massive improvement."

UTILITIES: Smooth switchover for QMC heating and hot water upgrade

AN UPGRADE of the heating and hot water system at the Queen's Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham has begun, with the first of a series of shutdowns successfully completed last weekend. Engineers switched off the steam distribution system to allow essential components to be replaced, leaving the QMC without hot tap water, heating and some air cooling while the maintenance work was ongoing. Alan Farrar, deputy director of operations at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "The work followed months of meticulous planning, so we are delighted that it went to plan. Hot water was restored to the QMC on Saturday. The work was carried out with minimum disruption to patients." The next shutdown is planned for 27 August.

TRANSPORT: Neonatal restraints help 1,300 sick babies

THE neonatal intensive care unit at Birmingham Women's Hospital has used restraints from ParAid medical to safely transfer 1,300 sick and critically-ill babies to specialist care centres around the region. Since the Neo-Restraints were introduced in 2010, they have helped to ferry infants between 16 different centres in the West Midlands. Jacky Harrison, neonatal transfer nurse at the hospital, said: "I've found there is nothing comparable to these restraints on the market currently. They are integral to our care unit; are lightweight; they keep babies in the correct, safe and comfortable position during transit; and are easy to clean." The equipment is designed for transportation by air or road and can support babies of 500g to 6kg.

PARKING: £7.9m car park opens at the Lister

The new green plaza between the car park and the Lister Surgicentre provides the hospital with a real sense of arriving - something that the old main entrance very much lacked

A NEW £7.9m car park for patients, staff and visitors to the Lister Hospital in Hertfordshire will open on 2 September. Built and run by VINCI Park, the facility will have around 500 spaces for visitors, including 63 designated for blue badge holders. A pay-on-exit system has also been introduced to coincide with the launch. Commenting on the opening, Nick Carver, chief executive of East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, said: "While much of the focus on the Lister's transformation has been around investment in new clinical services, infrastructure developments such as our new car park are equally important. Indeed it is one of the most frequent issues that is raised with me year on year by many people." The car park also boasts a number of environmentally-friendly and sustainable technologies, including a green wall, a silent turbine that generates 10% of the building's electricity needs, and an adjoining green plaza. "The new green plaza between the car park and the Lister Surgicentre provides the hospital with a real sense of arriving - something that the old main entrance very much lacked," said Carver. "It also provides people with a pleasant place in which to relax in the open air and is home to a piece of iconic sculpture that had been created out of a large oak tree that had to be felled to make way for the new building."

CATERING: TV chef gives hospital menus a shake-up

THE findings of a study into hospital catering services will be revealed in a week-long series for the BBC to be broadcast this week. Celebrity chef, James Martin, has been working alongside staff at Scarborough Hospital in a bid to change the way hospital food is created and inn the resulting programmes, he will address issues including the cost of meals, patient feedback and nutritional standards. During his time at the Scarborough trust, Martin worked with staff to create a new weekly menu, which has now been rolled out to patients and staff. The hospital restaurant was also given a makeover and renamed Pat's Place after catering manager, Pat Bell, who has worked at the hospital for 21 years. She said: "The last few months have been a rollercoaster with highs and lows, but overall we have really enjoyed the experience. I don't think that James knew what he was getting himself in for. However, our staff have worked tirelessly in order to introduce a new menu that not only offers patients more locally-grown seasonal food, but food that meets their nutritional needs as a hospital patient." The most-popular dishes from the new menu are slow-roasted pork and Yorkshire glazed sausage. Mike Proctor, trust chief executive, said: "Over the past few months our catering, dietetic and procurement teams have worked tirelessly alongside James and feedback from staff and patients has been extremely positive. As part of the Productive Ward Project we are also looking at our approach to how food is served to patients and what we can do to improve the process to provide a more holistic approach, reduce wastage, and further improve the patient experience." Programmes are being shown on BBC One.

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