St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust have begun deploying a new £4.2m Community of Interest Network (COIN) to link all the healthcare providers in the region.

The trust has signed a five year contract with ntl:Telewest Business to provide the community network, which will link 170 sites across the region. Through introducing the new network the trust hopes to save £1m each year in improved productivity and lower telephone costs.

Part funded by Connecting for Health, the direct fibre network being deployed features high levels of security and resilience to ensure uninterrupted service to the community. St Helen’s and Knowlsey is the first NHS Trust to take a COIN from ntl:Telewest.

Stephen Brooks, network and telecoms manager at the trust, told E-Health Insider: “We wanted to speed up the patient journey from primary to secondary care and back within our region. To do this, we had to have data flowing, so that hospital and GP systems were interoperable and access could be made to these easily, aligning the two different records..”

By December, over 7,000 staff will be joined up via the network. All e-mail addresses will be joined up via the COIN and practices will be offered new telephony to take advantage of cheaper call over the net using VoIP [Voice Over Internet Protocol].

Brooks said: “The network will make everyone more joined up, and they will be able to see things much quicker. Some of our GPs have more than one site for their practices, and this gives them increased ability to deal with patients no matter which surgery they go to within the region. They are also making call savings, have quicker internet, faster e-mail and above all efficient back-up.”

He added the system provides GPs with all the essentials they need to meet Payment by Results objectives.

The COIN has been a vision of St Helens and Knowsley for some time and they are the first trust to take the system from ntl:Telewest.

Ann Marr, chief executive of St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We have a clear vision – to deliver the best possible service to our patients on a local level. To be the first in the UK to offer this unique system is tremendous and shows our commitment to a community-based network using advanced technology to bring 7,500 local staff together to give better, faster patient care. By working with ntl:Telewest Business we are able to deliver on our vision while generating £1 million of efficiency savings that can be ploughed back into patient care.”

The project has so far been rolled out to the main core hospitals, 20 GP practices and 3 Local Improvement Finance Trust schemes.

Brooks says that the investment means that all staff will get access to the system ‘at least 10 to 20 seconds faster because it is in real time’. He strongly recommends the network to other trusts.

ntl:Telewest now hopes that more trusts will want to switch networks and take up this technology.

David Astley, head of health and emergency services, ntl:Telewest Business, said: “Providing connected healthcare at a local, community level is central to delivering the highest possible standards of patient care and ensuring that the current major investment in NHS IT provides real benefits.”

“Working with St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust on this ground-breaking project has demonstrated the advantages a local health service brings to patients and the healthcare professionals that serve them.”


ntl:Telewest Business