HEALTH chiefs have splashed out on hundreds of computer tablets to help community-based clinicians save time while visiting patients.
The 900 Samsung Galaxy Tab devices – similar to the iPad – will allow clinicians to securely access patient records and information while they are away from the office.
In shops, the much coveted tablets could have cost £360,000 or more – but hospital bosses are refusing to say how much they are forking out for them through a deal with Vodafone.
Hospital bosses say clinicians, including district nurses, across Blackpool and North Lancashire will benefit from the tablets while the move will save half a million pounds in administration and travel overheads.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust also says having secure access to information on the go, and from patients’ homes, could improve overall levels of care and even prevent an admission into hospital.
But Vernon Allen, a former member of the now defunct Patient and Public Information Forum at Victoria Hospital, said: “It’s ridiculous. Rather than spending money on technology for administration, they should spend it on having more nurses, consultants and medical staff.
“They should spend any spare money they have on medical equipment for advancement in patient care.”
The tablets will replace a paper-based system which saw clinicians having to return to base to file case notes or collect work schedules. A pilot was carried out which showed staff could save up to an hour a day in reduced travel and administration.
Staff on the trial said quick access to patient files could ultimately help prevent an admission into hospital.
Norma Rodgers, chairman of patient forum Blackpool Link, said: “These tablets allow clinicians to spend more time with patients which is good news.”
Campaigners today warned the NHS they should be careful where money was spent.
Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The NHS has to find savings so it can’t afford to throw taxpayers’ money away on a gimmick. Technology in the NHS is evolving but clinicians in Blackpool need to be careful not to jump on the tablet bandwagon unless it is going to improve care.”
Paul Morris, assistant head of informatics and performance at the trust, said: “Using the Tabs will bring major improvements to the service our clinicians provide to patients and will save the Trust around half a million pounds each year in operating and administration costs.
“It will substantially improve the overall treatment experience for patients, allowing clinicians to access information while at the patient’s home, spend more time with the patient and eliminate any overlap or repetition in the service provided to them.”