News round-up: Estates and facilities management

COMMUNICATIONS: Electronic check-in among new technologies at Somerset medical centre

Our receptionists' time is almost totally taken up by the process of manually checking patients in and answering repeated questions. The result is not only a lengthy wait time, but a huge administrative burden for staff when they could be undertaking other critical tasks

CHEDDAR Medical Centre in Somerset has selected Jayex's Enlighten waiting room management solution to increase productivity, improve patient flow and release more time for care. The practice will be using the technology to provide up-to-date demographics, trend information and to inform purchasing decisions through controlled patient feedback. Among the features are an auto arrivals touch-screen interface and next patient call boards. Pauline Drummond, practice manager, said: "Our receptionists' time is almost totally taken up by the process of manually checking patients in and answering repeated questions. The result is not only a lengthy wait time for the patient, but a huge administrative burden for reception staff when they could be undertaking other critical tasks." Bob Marsh of Jayex Technology added: "By offering patients the flexible, easy-to-use option alongside standard reception services, Cheddar Medical Centre is meeting the NHS mandate for patient choice and improving the patient experience, which has a direct impact on their Quality and Outcomes Framework score."

TRANSPORT: New ambulances for Isle of Wight

FOUR new emergency vehicles have been handed over to the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service. The ambulances, which cost £158,000 each, are Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 519CDI vehicles with an ambulance conversion carried out by Wietmarcher Ambulance and Security Vehicles (WAS).

Chris Smith, head of the ambulance service, said: "It's important we have high-performance emergency ambulances to enable our staff to deliver the excellent response times islanders have enjoyed in recent years. These four new vehicles are welcome additions to our fleet." The new ambulances have improved gear boxes, specialist tail ramps with the capacity to manage bariatric patients, specialist chairs for manoeuvring patients up and down stairs, more space for staff to work while s in transit, and the capacity to carry a family member where appropriate.

HEALTH AND SAFETY: Industry gong for Essex mental health facility

BROCKFIELD House mental health facility in Essex has been awarded a Merit for Health and Safety by the British Safety Council. The £28m development for South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust scooped the prize at the International Safety Awards in London recently. The award recognises organisations that have been successful in managing risks to workplace health and safety. Sally Morris, executive director of operations at the trust, said: "We are an organisation that is proud of its health and safety practices as this award rightly endorses. We are passionate about ensuring that essential, common sense and proportional health and safety measures are in place, not only for the wellbeing of our staff, but more importantly for the care of our patients."

PARKING: Health board considers scrapping visiting hours in bid to ease congestion

A SCOTTISH health board has threatened to scrap afternoon visiting hours in a bid to reduce traffic congestion around hospital sites. NHS Fife mooted the plan for Queen Margaret Hospital and Victoria Hospital in a bid to ease congestion for staff and visitors. Dave Stewart, chairman of the health board's operational divisional committee, said: "We are trying to change the mindset of our staff and the public. People think they can jump in their car and it's up to NHS Fife to provide a parking space. What would be the reaction if we decide we shouldn't have visiting hours in the afternoon? It might be a good idea. Are we going to demonstrate to the public that we are talking about every possible solution?" But John Winton, a board member and spokesman for Local Health Concern, warned: "If you want to find yourself hung from the flagpole in Dunfermline public park, then just go for it."

SECURITY: Hospital guards in Manchester to wear CCTV cameras

SECURITY officers working at hospitals run by the Pennine Acute Hospital NHS Trust are to wear CCTV cameras on their uniforms as part of a bid to crack down on violent behaviour. Staff at the Royal Oldham Hospital and the North Manchester General Hospital will wear the cameras on their stab-proof vests as part of a three-month trial. A trust spokesman explained: "The trust takes the safety and security of its staff, patients and visitors very seriously. Any member of the public who wilfully attacks, abuses or displays acts of violence and aggression towards any NHS staff member will not be tolerated." He added that the cameras would not be switched on all the time; only when necessary and that people in full view will be made aware when filming is occurring. "These cameras will not only act a deterrent to those members of the public who are violent, aggressive and abusive to our staff, but may also be used as evidence in court."

PARKING: Charges increase at Portsmouth trust

HOSPITAL bosses in Portsmouth have voiced their anger after a private contractor revealed it would be hiking up the cost of parking by 5.5%. Carillion has informed Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust that the increases will take effect from this month. As a result, the cost of parking at Queen Alexandra Hospital will now be £1.60 for an hour, £2.60 for up to two hours; £8.90 for up to eight hours; and £15.75 for more than 12 hours. At Soton General Hospital, charges will be £1.90 for an hour and £30 for up to 24 hours; while at St Richard's Hospital, charges are £1.60 for an hour and £6 for over four hours. A trust spokesman said of the move: "While the trust recognises Carillion's contractual right to increase charges in line with the Retail Price Index, we are very disappointed that these increased charges are to be introduced. The trust receives no income from these car parking fees. Patient care and the patient experience have always been, and remain, two of our highest priorities, and parking at Queen Alexandra Hospital is an important part of that patient experience."

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