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numerous zones, making it suitable for use across an entire hospital. The source and urgency of each call is displayed on a touch screen unit at the nurses’ station. Wire free installation enables nurse call

systems to be adapted to the changing needs of the hospital with minimal disruption, no modifications to the electrical installation and no physical works that can cause dust and increase the infection control risk. This provides the flexibility required to adapt to the changing needs of contemporary hospitals quickly and easily, aiding future proofing by offering a scalable solution that can also be extended to accommodate new facilities or any increase in patient capacity. Managing changes in service provision,

demographic adjustments and increases in the number of service users with existing hospital assets are among the major challenges facing NHS Trusts. With this in mind, future flexibility must be an integral part of project planning, both from an operational standpoint and as part of a best value capital expenditure strategy. It is an imperative that is clearly stated

within the HTM 08-03 guidance notes: “Management should ensure that bedhead service systems are designed and installed in a manner which allows the simple and economic adaptation, amendment, maintenance or addition of services by competent people to reflect changing clinical needs or variations in clinical use.”

Reliable wireless Wireless nurse call systems have been specified for many of the recent Private Funding Initiative (PFI) hospital build programmes in the UK, which have been used to build new public sector hospitals or improve existing hospitals using private finance as part of a long-term capital investment and outsourced capital replacement and services contract. They have also been widely installed in NHS Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) projects, which have seen significant improvements in healthcare facilities at community or ‘primary care’ level. The reasons behind this widespread specification is that wireless nurse call systems build in flexibility for a best value approach that ensures the specification is fit for purpose at the time of build and throughout the lifecycle of the facility. In retrofit installations, however, the

choices are more complicated. Historically, many hospitals have used hard-wired systems and, because extensions or refurbishments have been carried out on an as needed basis, they may have multiple systems across the estate. As systems have needed to be replaced or upgraded, replacement hard-wired systems have often been specified, perpetuating the need to replace or re-wire whenever the space is reconfigured or redeployed. Those decisions not only have functionality and future-proofing consequences, but also affect long-term


maintenance costs. Any issues with faulty wiring require disruptive works to address the problem, which has a knock on effect on clinical services as patients need to be decanted to other areas of the hospital while any work is carried out. A ‘specify what you

know/have’ approach, is not the only reason why some hospitals have been slow to adopt wireless technology. Some specifiers are still reluctant to trust the signal integrity of wireless systems… concerns which are unfounded. Today’s wireless systems are installed with radio redundancy built into the system and are custom-designed for each individual hospital environment. Signal strength can be

increased to suit the specific layout of each individual hospital using signal boosters that receive signals and send them back out. This is even true in hospital environments where there are long corridors, because the supplier will always design sufficient boosters into the system to exceed the hospital’s maximum requirements. There is sometimes also a mistaken belief

The chosen system should fit the individual hospital’s needs and, in the UK, it should also conform to HTM 08-03 requirements.

that wireless nurse call systems could interfere with sensitive electronic medical equipment such as monitors, or communication networks. However, these fears are similarly unjustified because contemporary wireless systems can guarantee zero interference with other electronic equipment in the hospital. This complies with HTM 08-03, which

clearly states: ‘The audio and visual signals should not interfere, or cause operational difficulties, with other systems such as fire alarm systems, IT or telecommunication networks.’

Quality counts It should be ensured that the type of system specified should fit the individual hospital’s needs and, in the UK, it should also conform to all HTM 08-03 requirements. One of the misconceptions commonly used to discount

‘Some specifiers are still reluctant to trust the signal integrity of wireless systems… concerns which are unfounded.’

wireless nurse call products is that they do not incorporate a lamps system to lead nursing staff to the call or alert staff that a call button has been pressed when they are away from the nurses’ station. In the future, such lamp systems may no

longer be essential as advanced nurse call systems – both wired and wireless – can now be integrated with pagers, DECT telephones or smart phones to ensure that nurses are aware of a call whatever their location, and there has been significant interest in this from specifiers. However, traditional lamps and call

acknowledgement at the bedhead is currently specified as standard and wireless systems can comply with this requirement. Courtney- Thorne’s over door lamp, for example, has multiple call levels indicated by colour, using wireless radio technology. This helps nurses to prioritise calls.

Management data From assessing staffing level requirements for rotas to substantiating response times in negligence cases, management data has become a key tool for hospital management teams and this can now be accessed using either wired or wireless technology. It is another area that is clearly outlined

in the HTM 08-03 guidance, which states that ‘Nurse-call systems should be designed to be resilient, fault-tolerant and easy to maintain. It should be possible for the system to log all of the calls/events and provide detailed history reports when required.’


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