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West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edumds, uses technology to help minimise impact of coronavirus on patients, loved ones and staff




Digital technology has been embraced by West Suffolk NHS Trust (WSFT) during its coronavirus response.

Measures including tighter visiting restrictions and the postponement of some face-to-face appointments have been introduced to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Now, the hospital is utilising digital technology – including video consultations and ensuring better home working facilities for staff – to help minimise the impact on patients and loved ones.

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. (33493733)
West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. (33493733)

The trust’s patient advice and liaison service (PALS) has extended its support via live webchat, allowing digital visitors to ask questions from 8am-8pm every day.

Cassia Nice, head of patient experience, said: “We hope this is going to be really useful for our community and help them to get answers to their questions quickly to reduce any worry or anxiety in what we know is a troubling time.”

Meanwhile, a virtual clinical helpline has been launched for relatives to call for updates on their loved ones.

“We know our new visiting restrictions can make it harder to keep up to date,” Cassia said.

“The helpline team is supported by nurses and therapists who have access to all the information needed. As well as being a quick and easy route for relatives to see how their loved one is getting on, it will free up nursing colleagues on the wards to focus on what they do best – providing the wonderful care.”

The trust is also looking to use iPads as a way of lessening the impact of loneliness and stress and enabling patients to video call families.

Staff in the community and the hospital are also utilising consultation software to see and speak to patients remotely, so clinical care can continue in a way that respects social distancing, while the trust’s chaplaincy is offering video calls for patients.

Mike Bone, chief information officer at WSFT, said: “The commitment and skill that our IT team have shown over the last few weeks has been incredible. Moving a high amount of staff from locations across the community and at the hospital to their homes digitally has been a huge effort and I have to commend the work of everyone in the team.”

Dr Stephen Dunn, chief executive, added: “The work ethic, creativity, and willingness of everyone at the hospital and in the community to work together differently to maintain our services and standards has been brilliant.”


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