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Wireless Technology Delivers a Secure Future

09 October, 2013
John Pye, Managing Director at Reflex Systems, looks at how the latest technology is being used in the healthcare sector to protect vulnerable patients

NHS hospitals in the UK are faced with the difficult challenge of balancing increasingly tight budgets with their duty of care for patients, service users and staff.  We are seeing the growing use of wireless technology and integrated design in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, such as care homes, to ensure the safety and security of their facilities whilst controlling operational costs

The integration of wireless technology with CCTV and Access Control systems is proving particularly effective in facilities that care for vulnerable patients, such as maternity wards, where we are seeing a growing use of RFID (radio frequency identification).

Whilst infant abduction is, fortunately, rare in the UK, security in maternity wards and hospital nurseries is nevertheless a priority for the NHS and private healthcare in light of the trauma and publicity that surrounds such incidents.

RFID technology is being used by a growing number of healthcare providers to offer parents of new-born babies greater peace of mind, as well as protecting the hospital from the risk of liability.  The technology works by fitting a comfortable tag to the baby’s arm or leg just after birth, providing 24 hour monitoring.  The device reports any unauthorized exit through protected doorways, tag removal or tampering or loss of signal, via alarm.

We were recently involved with upgrading the security provision of Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where an innovative new wireless infant security system and fully integrated door access security system was installed to protect infants on the maternity ward at Wexham Park.

If an infant is moved by anyone other than authorised personnel, or crosses outside of the authorised areas, the tag will trigger an alarm which results in a sequenced door lockdown and live sounding of alarms locally, at the nurses' stations, as well as at the central security desk.   The wireless infant security system was also integrated with site-wide CCTV monitoring with the alarm system, which enables nursing staff to have real-time surveillance of the whole area.

Kay Loudon-Bruce, Head of Security at Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "It was really important to us that the infant security system we chose was simply to use, as well as being extremely secure. As nursing staff need to be able to spend their time nursing, we didn’t want them to require lots of technical knowledge in order to be able to operate the system.  Reflex Systems has delivered a technologically sound, robust infant security solution that means we can trust in the system to do its job in providing the best possible protection for parents and their babies.”

RFID technology also opens up huge opportunities in the healthcare sector, protecting other vulnerable patients within the medical environment such as paediatrics, dementia, head injury and all situations where bed or patient watching is required. The Alzheimers Association suggests that six in ten people with dementia display wandering behaviour and every year there are cases of residents of care homes or patients in hospital with these conditions who go out on their own and get lost, often with tragic consequences.

With sophisticated patient protection systems in place, this would become a thing of the past, helping to minimise the risks to patients, giving greater peace of mind to hospitals and care establishments and added reassurance to families.”

For more details, contact 0800 542 3333 or visit the Reflex Systems website.

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