New Link Between Hospital Staff & Police Launched At the RLI

Wednesday, 11 August, 2010

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT) has become one of the first Acute Trusts in the country to have its own airwave licence, which provides improved communications and safety for both hospital and police staff in Lancaster.

Working in partnership with Lancashire Constabulary, UHMBT has introduced Airwave - a new secure TETRA communications link between staff in the Emergency Department at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) and the police.

If a situation arises, doctors and nurses at the RLI can alert the police by initiating an alarm and reporting the incident details. Being able to talk directly to each other not only ensures that staff in the hospital can securely report an incident as soon as it arises but it also allows the police to determine the level and nature of the situation and respond in the most efficient and effective way.

Sydney Schneidman, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Clinical Lead for Health Informatics, UHMBT, said: "The safety of our staff and patients is a major priority for us and this new link gives greater protection to both hospital and police staff.

"The new communications link means that any incidents are responded to immediately and capably. Resources are allocated with informed judgment so that the appropriate numbers of police officers attend the scene, should they need to.

"We are extremely happy to be working in cooperation with Lancashire Constabulary and this partnership means that our staff, patients and the police can feel safer whilst in our hospital."

Chief Inspector Ralph Copley, Lancaster police, said: "This facility enables hospital staff to communicate with ourselves promptly and efficiently when police are required to respond to an incident within the hospital. It allows us to deploy the most appropriate resource and undoubtedly provides reassurance to staff and patients alike.

"We are well aware that hospital staff and sometimes patients are vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and sometimes physical assault and I welcome any initiative that will help us to prevent those incidents and respond more effectively to them should they occur."

UHMBT will also use the radio system for secure communications in other situations. If there is a traffic accident or another incident where ambulance crews request additional medical support from the RLI's mobile medical team, the doctors and nurses at the scene can speak directly to the Emergency Department to prepare them for the potential number of casualties expected. The system is also used for routine communications between staff and the Emergency Department when receiving patients by helicopter allowing them to inform the department if additional resources need to be ready for the patient on arrival.

Tony Halsall, Chief Executive, UHMBT, said: "This is another fantastic example of how different organisations working together can really benefit the local community. Both the staff in the Emergency Department at the RLI and the police work extremely hard to ensure that our patients are in a safe environment whilst in our hospital and this system gives everyone that little bit of extra reassurance."

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