easier for staff to access the medication they need for patients. Pharmacy is responsible for stock rotation and this means, as nurses, we now have the right medication instantly available when we need it. This new approach has freed up nursing time and that time is now better spent caring for patients – the very reason we came into the profession in the first place.

The Omnicell cabinets are keyless with nurses gaining access via their unique fingerprint. Once logged in, they are then directed to the medication they need for patients via a guiding light system. This is helping to eliminate the risk of medication errors and as result its improving patient safety. In addition, we receive live daily reports from the system and this enables us to identify areas of staff development and highlights good practice.

Put simply, it’s now easier for staff to do their job effectively with regards to medication management and administration and we have more time to care for patients. We don’t find out of date items anymore and we don’t run out of things. The time taken to get medications is much quicker and we can always get the medication we need when we need it. That makes it much safer for staff and patients and it instils confidence in our nurses. The new approach to medication management and stock rotation ensures we always have immediate access to vital drugs which help patients recover quicker and speed up discharge times.

Such is the success of the initial project to replace the emergency ward drug cupboards, the Trust has now rolled

out Omnicell across the hospital in different locations. We have 56 cells on various wards. North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is one of six pilot sites for Scan 4 Safety across the UK. We are in the process of implementing our GS1 strategy, using Omnicell as a leading partner in our plan. The next step in this is linking our cabinets to the hospital’s EPMA system to provide further safety benefits.

Since installing the system, the Trust has had a stock reduction of £2,800 or 10% of the stock on-hand has been achieved – we also know that further reductions could be possible when we review usage patterns too. The expiry date reports also help the pharmacy to see which stock is due to go out of date, allowing them to move medication around the hospital – so it all gets used instead of wasted. This means that there is now very little stock expiry on the wards.

Without doubt, nurses and frontline staff are stretched and working under increasing pressure in the NHS. Significant numbers of patients are being prescribed complex medication regimes – in North Tees alone we manage as many as 441 lines on one ward.

Automated dispensing systems provide effective inventory management, minimise stock-outs and help reduce missed doses. This provides a real safety net, as well as an effective tracking system for our team. Yet, crucially, they are helping to free-up valuable pharmacy and nursing time which can be redirected into face-to-face patient care. - 15 -

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