Community staff at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are set to receive tablet devices to give them remote mobile access to scheduling and patient information.

The Samsung Galaxy 7 tablets will be issued to district nurses next month, at the start of a phased roll-out of the devices.

The move follows the incorporation of a community services arm of the trust covering Blackpool, the Fylde Coast, Wyre and North Lancashire on 1 April.

By the end of the year, 400 clinicians will have the tablets, with a further 500 to follow by the end of the second phase of the roll-out.

The tablets will replace a paper-based system that means clinicians have to return to base to file case notes or collect their work schedules.

Darren Kirmond, systems development manager for community services and project lead, said community services started using iSoft’s iPM patient administration system about three years ago; but this had shown the need for better mobile working.

“We deployed iPM about three years ago, and the organisation has come on leaps and bounds with the development of scheduling, but staff are still having to come into base in the morning before work to access their schedules,” he said.

“The tablets will allow staff to get around more efficiently, and while they cannot update care plans, they will be able to message the care administrators with changes they want to see, amend their schedules, update the iPM contact, and, in the case of physiotherapists, order equipment.”

The trust believes the tablets will save an hour of each clinician’s time each day. It expects to achieve a return on its investment within 12 months.

The trust completed a pilot of BlackBerry Torch devices at the end of last year, but decided staff needed larger screens to access scheduling information. This led to the decision to go with the Samsung devices.

“We looked at a number of tablets but we felt the Samsung tablets best suited our needs, as it was larger and had the necessary level of encryption and security,” said Kirmond.

Blackpool has also signed a five-year contract with Vodafone, and will work in partnership with the company to secure the devices by implementing the company’s mobile device management software.

“We chose Vodafone due to the service we have had off them in the past as they have been very responsive and sensitive to our basic needs,” said Kirmond.

Blackpool is also set to hold its first ‘paperless’ board meeting next month, with members using iPads to access minutes and notes, according to a representative of the trust talking at an NHS North West ISD Network event.