A hardworking multi-disciplinary team committed to ensuring compliance with EU blood tracking requirements helped Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust scoop the BT e-Health Insider Healthcare Business Support ICT Team of the Year award, sponsored by VoicePower in 2007.

The Trafford team with their award
The Trafford team with their award


Working closely with software specialists, MSoft, the trust developed a web-based solution integrated with some of the trust’s information systems, ensuring full traceability of all blood products used by the trust through barcodes.

Since winning the award, the system has received press attention across Manchester, and has even been tested by Conservative party leader David Cameron, who praised the team for the award winning system.

The system has also been filmed by local TV station, Trafford TV, who now broadcast a documentary on the system in local swimming pools on a daily basis. Its award-winning status has led to the trust has been visited by over 22 other NHS organisations interested in the system.

Trafford’s IM&T project manager, Stephen Parsons, told E-Health Insider: “Winning the award was a big achievement for us. It was great to win recognition for a system that involved so much collaborative work, both here at trust level, and from MSoft. With the award, we have been able to really promote the system, and give it an extra boost of recognition.”

The system itself was developed following changes to EU regulations in 2005. The aim of these regulations is to ensure that the right blood is given to the right patient at the right time, providing vein-to-vein traceability, and storing evidence for 30 years.

Dr Jeff Jones, pathology manager, at Trafford General Hospital, said: “We believe that you cannot comply with the new EU regulations for 100% traceability without a fully robust and auditable IT solution, and this is what we pushed on our board. They allowed us to go out to tender and from there we chose to collaborate with tracking specialists MSoft and develop a system which would specifically meet NHS requirements.”

Using a hand-held device at a patient’s bedside nurses are able to check information at the touch of a screen about blood to be used in transfusions. The information is completely up-to-date as it is linked to the hospital’s internal website. When a patient is due for a transfusion the blood being used arrives at the hospital’s blood bank.

The blood then goes into a fridge specific to a ward, and is taken to the patient. A nurse then scans the information tag on the bag using the hand held device to check that it is for the correct patient. Staff are also able to connect the device to their computer and trace the history providing a clear audit trail. This includes details of who collected the blood, how it was transported and details of the care provided during the transfusion process.

The BT e-Health Insider award judges said that they were impressed not only by the system itself but by the fact that it was effectively integrated into other hospital systems.

Dave Johnson, Pathology Messaging Project manager at the hospital, said: “The integration is key to the success of the system. Through checking through records in hospital systems, staff are immediately alerted if there is anything which could endanger the patient. The devices will also make a noise to ensure the nurse does not go ahead.”

Trafford were awarded Team of the Year for their commitment to a strong multi-disciplinary team. Key to their success was nurse Marie Green, a specialist practitioner of transfusions, who worked closely with her colleagues to ensure the system met their requirements.

“I went around the wards and spoke to clinicians and nurses to see what they wanted from a system. Clinical engagement really was paramount for this to be a success, without them, it just wouldn’t have worked.

“We have been lucky that our staff have been very receptive to the system and are keen to be trained constantly on how this new technology works. Also, we have seen patients happy that they are being involved and acknowledged, and have peace of mind knowing they are receiving the right blood. Simple barcode scans to ensure the best treatment and essential safety don’t take long and everyone seems to appreciate that.”

It was Green who asked Cameron if he would like to test the system and see the benefits for himself: “He came here because we are the first NHS hospital, and I showed him the device, which he tested, and it was great to see him recognise the innovations the NHS needs to move forward.”

Since winning, the system has been recommended by the Clinical Pathology Accreditation UK, as compliant with all relevant standards and legislation and is involved in the NHS Connecting for Health and National Patient Safety Agency blood tracking pilot scheme.

Offering advice to 2008 awards entrants, Green jokes: “If we enter again, tell them not to bother!” but she added: “It is important that you know just how dedicated your team has worked at its project. We knew that in our case, blood specialists and IT department staff do not normally work together and we needed to make sure we both understood what was required and how best to achieve it. I would encourage any NHS teams out there to enter and showcase what they have achieved through good leadership, project management, teamwork and a solid relationship with their supplier.”

Parsons added the competition would be likely to leave entrants in awe: “The one thing that struck me on the night was the finalists. There is so much tremendous work going on in the NHS, and to hear of all the projects was absolutely amazing. It’s great that the NHS gets a pat on the back for what goes on at grassroots level.”

EHI apologies to Marie Green for an error in a previously published quote.



The BT e-Health Insider Awards 2008 have launched, click here to submit your entry.