back to article NHS hands out 3G slabs and phones to roving nurses

The Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust is piloting mobile devices for its community care nurses and therapists to enable them to access files, capture data and update back office systems remotely. The launch of the 14-day pilot, beginning on 7 February 2012, will see about 60 staff equipped with smartphones and tablets using …

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Anonymous Coward

My mum has worked for the NHS for many years, after many years of working with paperwork whilst in the office and at a clients house they were issued with Netbooks during last year. They were issued with Dell Latitude 2120 netbooks with Vodafone 3G sims, at no point was an trial or POC performed amongst the staff (from what I can tell anyway) The feedback from a lot of the staff was that the issuing of the equipment was poorly exercised, the Netbooks were really too small to work easily and effectively. The main feedback was that the Vodafone 3G offering was also poor, the majority of places they needed access there was no coverage or just GPRS.

In my opinion they should have tested these before buying a large amount of hardware and certainly before signing up to a stack load of Vodafone 3G contracts. As far as I am aware my mother and a number of her colleagues have handed back their Netbooks asking to be upgraded to Laptops, however there is no money left in the budget!!

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Whichever 3G network you choose you will face the same issue somewhere. My colleague can't get a decent O2 signal in his living room but can get a perfect Vodafone signal, swings and roundabouts.

I have to say this is probably one of those situations where a tablet has clear benefits over a laptop. If the primary aim is to gather information about visits then a tablet with a bespoke application linked in to a backend server would be very usable.

I would be surprised if a public service could actually make good use of technology.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC

Whilst clearly not very well thought out it doesn't mean other trusts cant embark on exercises to try and improve patient treatment and working conditions for staff..

The scheme in question is being embraced and welcomed by the staff at the trust from what I can gather!

Also if you read the article it specifically covers off the no 3G access saying the software will work offline and upload when back in coverage, so its already better than the system your mother was offered.

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Even nicer idea would be

If the offline mode allowed the nurses to have a list of their patients for that day on screen and download data for the next appointment (if this is necessary) when they are in a 3G area so when offline they don't have to wait ages for the information to download. I'm guessing these devices have remote lockdown and wipe that can be done via something like (secure in some way?) text message in case it gets lost in a patchy 3G area? On the whole, nice to see some an NHS technology project being done throughtfully but with easily measurable benefits / satisfaction.

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds like north devon are doing it properly then - it's a trial, and the app works offline when there's no connectivity. Your mum's office could clearly learn something!

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Anonymous Coward

@David Perry 2

It does allow them to pull down all data needed for all visits for as many days as they want (or need)...

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FAIL

costings

cost per tablet :£500

cost per tablet because its governemtn contract £5000

two week junket to see if training users in barabados is a good idea :£10,000

user training in grimsby because travel to barbados has "too big a carbon footprint" :£100,000

Fancy new nhs toys being used to facebook photo's of people in emabarresing medical situations:priceless

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Anonymous Coward

RE: costings

Yeah you are exactly right.

Never mind the fact the trusts are all independent entities, so no "governemtn" (your spelling not mine!) contract..

Training is all supplied at the Trusts HQ..

Community workers are amongst the most hard working unit of the NHS who do actually give a crap about their patients and having anything to make the task a little easier and having the information to hand at a patients own home when they have questions are invaluable...

Those fancy new toys will be locked down to prevent access to things like bookface etc!

You sir have no idea what you are talking about.....

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Anonymous Coward

Trust me if I have a choice between paying £5000 or £500 I will look for the quote that says £450. The old days of ordering a 500quid unit at 10x price are slowly going in the NHS, it just needs a reminder sometimes.

But as someone else looking into mobile devices for the community I'll be watching this with interest.

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FAIL

Previously...

They're still banging the drum on this one? The NHS ran a similar trial with the Community Nurses in Brighton (roughly 3 years ago) - they issued them with (quite nice) laptops - the type with flippable screens that turned them into a tablet (I forget the make - might have been HP?), along with Vodaphone 3G connections.

The whole thing was a farce - whoever is running this in the NHS IT team needs sacking.

1) They must have spent over two grand on each laptop.

2) They gave them to the nurses without setting up network connections (so they couldn't communicate with the server backend) - I configured the 3G on my wife's one for her.

3) No training was given to the staff.

4) The software backend was never completed anyway.

After a year of taking up space in their office and depreciating, having NEVER BEEN USED for anything, all the laptops were scrapped.

Side Note: 3G reception down in Brighton is so patchy (as it is in most places in the UK), that the sort of permanently connected server side application beloved of NHS IT will never work. An iPad app that worked offline, cached notes and synched back to base when a connection was available... now that's something that might actually help the nurses. Except it won't - they wear latex gloves when dealing with patients, and cap-sense screens don't work with them (ok, they could use a stylus, a sausage, or their noses - but it'll be a pain in the bum).

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Stop

re. latex gloves and touch screens

After about 0.5 seconds of thought, I was sure you were wrong about cap-sense touch screens not working with latex gloves. I've just tried operating the screen of my HTC Android phone while wearing latex gloves - it works fine, and it has a screen protector on it as well.

So, where do you get your information from?

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Previously

"They're still banging the drum on this one?"

No, not really! They are implementing it in a completely different way.

"The whole thing was a farce - whoever is running this in the NHS IT team needs sacking."

There is no single NHS IT team, never has been, never will be! Even NPfIT wasn't a single team...

"The whole thing was a farce - whoever is running this in the NHS IT team needs sacking.

1) They must have spent over two grand on each laptop.

2) They gave them to the nurses without setting up network connections (so they couldn't communicate with the server backend) - I configured the 3G on my wife's one for her.

3) No training was given to the staff.

4) The software backend was never completed anyway.

After a year of taking up space in their office and depreciating, having NEVER BEEN USED for anything, all the laptops were scrapped."

Completely different Trust, completely different IT team, completely different implementation, completely different hardware.

"An iPad app that worked offline, cached notes and synched back to base when a connection was available... now that's something that might actually help the nurses"

Whilst the fondleslab manufacturer hasn't been revealed this is exactly what has been rolled out.

Did you even read the article?

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@ Craig

Did you even read the post?

For once it sounds like this particular NHS trust is doing things the right way, you know with a limited trial and what not.... then an evaluation and then a roll out, if warranted, or a trip back to the drawing board if not. Not sure which trust sends it's evaluation staff to Barbados, but clearly I'm working for the wrong one!

While I understand your skepticism, as I work in NHS IT I have a healthy dose of that already, people keep banging on, on one hand about how the NHS needs to modernise and "get with the times" and then on the other hand people jump up and down crying about what a waste of money it is to buy nurses laptops. Granted in your wife's case it does sound like the rollout was nothing short of piss poor, and the manager deserves to be sacked (though of course never will sadly) but give us a break.

I don't think you understand how archaic and disprate some NHS IT systems are, what will work in one trust won't work in another, somewhere, guaranteed. This is why the NPfIT failed so spectacularly. Well, that and the fact the snake oil salesmen fed the politicos a truckload of BS.

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Anonymous Coward

And not a single mention...

of the security reviews, risk assessments, penetration testing or provisions for data protection...

I expect this will not be the last time this service is mentioned in the news... and next time the headline will contain the phrase "Oops!".

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Something similar in the 5th Framework

PICNIC Project last century. Results Open Source, as is proper since it was funded publicly.

Also something similar running around Exeter, the next PCT and Trust area over, for a few years.

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