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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > Technological innovations boost patient care at West Cumberland Hospital

Technological innovations boost patient care at West Cumberland Hospital

Posted on Monday 8th February 2016
wch courtyard

Patients at the new West Cumberland Hospital are benefitting not only from a much-improved environment and facilities, but also the latest technological innovations behind the scenes.

Across the hospital, new technology has been employed to make patient care safer, more responsive and more efficient, whilst improving the working lives of staff too.

Some of the technical innovations in the new hospital include:

  • Smart pharmacy drug dispensing cabinets – uses fingerprint recognition so only authorised members of staff have access to drugs; records exactly which drugs have been removed; interfaced with pharmacy IT system so stocks can be replenished before they run low
  • Video conferencing – purpose-built rooms with the latest video conferencing equipment, links to medical imaging systems and allows remote multidisciplinary teams to discuss best care for patients including experts from other hospitals
  • Mobile devices can be used for video links from anywhere in the hospital using the latest Wi-Fi technology to provide clear communication with colleagues wherever they are
  • UVB irradiation booth – dermatology patients will no longer have to travel to the Cumberland Infirmary for this treatment, used for conditions such as psoriasis
  • Metavision – links to observation devices to record data for patients in intensive care; eliminates the need for staff to record observation data every hour, saving time and reducing the chance of errors from unclear handwriting etc.; gives safety warnings and can be accessed by clinicians remotely.
  • Self-check-in machines – located the central outpatient waiting area, allowing patients to check-in quickly and discreetly.
  • New state-of-the-art audiology booths

In addition to these innovations, patients are benefitting from new ‘frontline’ equipment such as more sophisticated MRI and CT scanners as well as the latest technology in endoscopy scopes. Almost £8 million was spent on equipment and the IT infrastructure for the new hospital.

All of the electrical services in the hospital – clinical, administration, heating, lighting and so on – now run on a single network, with servers housed in modern, purpose-built data centres. The investment in the hospital’s IT infrastructure means everything from patient bedside equipment to security cameras and doors work more effectively.

North Cumbria University Hospitals worked closely on the IT systems for the new hospital with buddy trust Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which opened its own new emergency care hospital in Cramlington last year.

Kevin Dickinson is joint head of IT for both North Cumbria and Northumbria. He explained: “We realised early on that, we could build two hospitals together better and more efficiently than building two individual hospitals. For example, we submitted joint tenders to achieve savings at scale. We saved around £600,000 in total by linking the two hospitals and creating a state-of-the-art joint network.”

"Both hospitals benefited from innovations which had they implemented individually would have been unaffordable.

“We are really pleased with the facilities we have in place in Whitehaven, and are confident they are allowing us to offer patients an improved service.”