Staff and patients benefiting from £500,000 new technology to support patient communication during Covid-19 pandemic

Staff from Ward 117 Infectious Diseases Service at Royal Stoke with some of th iPads

Staff and patients at University Hospital of North Midlands are to benefit from £500,000 state-of-the-art technology thanks to the Denise Coates Foundation.

The first schemes to come on line following a £10 million grant to UHNM Charity will enhance and improve patient care and support our staff at both Royal Stoke Hospital and County Hospital, Stafford through the demand for our services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

250 iPads are being issued to wards and departments across both Royal Stoke University Hospital and County Hospital, Stafford to provide an essential means of communication between patients and their relatives while visiting is restricted and further technology such as equipment for video and on-line consultations to ensure essential appointments and clinics can take place remotely is also being introduced, reducing the risk of infection by bringing patients into hospital and allowing staff who are self-isolating to continue to make essential contribution to patient care.

Michelle Rhodes, UHNM Chief Nurse, said: “One of the most upsetting aspects of COVID-19 is that relatives are unable to visit their loved ones in hospital and therefore the grant from the Denise Coates Foundation is helping to provide equipment to ensure compassionate communication can take place between patients and their family and relatives at home. This can make a huge difference in keeping up the morale of poorly patients and potentially ensuring the ability of loved one to communicate when nearing end of life.”

John Oxtoby, UHNM Medical Director, said: “We have developed new ways of working since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak which includes the provision of virtual and online appointments and consultations to help protect our patients and staff from the spread of the virus. The state-of-the-art laptops and computers mean that these can continue to take place remotely, reducing the threat of spreading the infection and providing hopefully a better experience for our patients.”

Some of the devices have also been given to social care partners at Stoke City Council to support joint working in helping patients at home.

Cllr Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “Our thanks go to the Denise Coates Foundation for their generous donation. The iPads have helped to digitally equip our team based out of the hospital so they can work more efficiently and effectively. It means they can now more easily access hospital systems and intelligence in ward areas, helping to get people safely and securely supported back into their own homes more quickly. This in turn helps free up space so that our local hospital is better able to meet the demand for vulnerable COVID patients.  It also continually supports our staff with social distancing as they don’t need to be attached to a desk to work.”  

The latest hand-free technology is also due to come online to allow staff in the Emergency Departments of the Trust’s two hospitals and in Critical Care to communicate quickly without the use of traditional phones or pagers and ensure that the people are in the right place as quickly as possible to provide optimum care for those with severe respiratory difficulties that Covid-19 brings.