NHS England - Transformation Directorate

Putting your bleeps to sleep - using modern communications tools to improve care

As an A&E nurse I need to be able to communicate with my colleagues quickly and efficiently so we can provide safe and effective care for my patients. 

Currently many trusts rely too heavily on outdated pagers, telephone calls and the use of personal messaging platforms to do this. This means care can be disjointed, frustrating and laborious for patients and clinicians.

In February 2019, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced that NHS trusts will be required to phase out pagers by the end of 2021, and to move to more modern communication tools. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need to urgently deliver on this commitment and NHSX has led on the development of a new Clinical Communication Tools framework to make it easier for staff, trusts and commissioners to use products, solutions and software from a range of approved suppliers that best meet their needs. This is an exciting opportunity for secondary care to enhance multi disciplinary team working. To kick start the introduction of modern communications tools NHSX has secured £3 million to cover some of the licence costs in the first 12 months. 

I’ll give you a real example from my experience as an A&E nurse.

Currently where I work, if a child is admitted to A&E with a burn my hospital does not have a burns unit. This means I have to take a photo of the burn on a 10  year old plus camera, download it to a working computer, email it via NHSMail to the lead consultant at a different hospital, call the consultant who then reviews the image. They then give me the child’s management plan over the phone, which is then followed up by email. 

Alternatively, with modern communications tools, the same child is admitted into A&E with a burn. While my hospital still doesn’t have a burns unit, using my own device I can use a clinical communication platform to take a photo of the burn which I can instantly message to the lead clinician at the different hospital. That clinician can then reply directly with a clear management plan - seamlessly and all in one place. What a difference!

Our new framework is easily accessible via the NHSX website and it will be maintained and managed by the National Procurement Hub.

The NHSX team and the Procurement Hub are holding a joint webinar to explain the framework in more detail and the allocation of the £3 million on Thursday 6 August, 2pm to 3pm. If you would like to join this then please register via EventBrite.