Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust has chosen communication company Ascom to supply hundreds of smartphones in a bid to ditch pagers.

Some 330 of the companies Myco 3 smartphones and 45 Myco 2 smartphones will be deployed, using the Unite AlertTrac critical messaging software.

The technology, being deployed across all clinical areas including outpatients, will enable the trust to send customised alerts and critical messages to clinical and support staff on the move, allowing them to respond more quickly to emergency calls.

Clinicians believe it will allow them to spend more time with patients and improve the quality of care they receive.

The Ascom technology will enable access to WebV, the trust’s own electronic patient record system, and integrates with Patientrack, an electronic observations system that will send alerts and crucial clinical information to the Myco devices when patients are showing signs of deterioration.

The devices will also be linked to the trust’s telephone system, so calls can be put straight through to clinicians.

Robin Pitts, the trust’s clinical IT and change manager, said: “One of the key reasons for choosing the Myco 3 devices was that they have a built in barcode scanner. This will support the trust with its local progression of the national Scan 4 Safety pioneering initiative by enabling staff to scan patients, products and places, making patient care safer and delivering efficiencies.

“A traditional pager simply receives a message and informs the holder that the message has arrived. There is usually no context to the message, just a telephone number to ring.

“The recipient then must perform many additional steps to understand the reason for the message and to identify and communicate with the sender.

“The Myco devices enable clinicians to speak to each other, message securely, and interact with the electronic patient record, handover and other clinical IT systems. This will save a huge amount of time that is currently wasted.”

The trust, which employs 4,500 staff across Harrogate and Ripon hospitals, has also ordered additional hot-swap batteries and a range of charging stations for the smartphones.

The contract is for three years.

NHS Grampian has also employed Ascom to provide provide its i62 voice over WiFi to around 4,000 staff, allowing them tocommunicate vital patient information within seconds rather than wasting time using pagers.

In February secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock announced NHS trusts will be required to phase out pagers by the end of 2021, with all hospitals expected to have plans and infrastructure in place to ensure this is possible by the end of September 2020.

Instead, staff are expected use modern alternatives, such as mobile phones and apps, which can deliver more accurate two-way communications at a reduced cost.

A pilot project using Medic Bleep was carried out at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT), which is one of the Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) sites, in 2017 and led to saving junior doctors 48 minutes per shift and nurses 21 minutes on average.

It was the latest in his war on outdated tech, with the Axe the Fax campaign to rid the NHS of fax machines. In December 2018 Hancock banned trusts from purchasing new fax machines beyond January 2019, with a complete phase-out of the technology by April 2020.