NHS tech roll-out helps combat falls among elderly

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Digital checks that can prevent dementia and falls in older people and save lives are among a range of tools being made available in hospitals across the country, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

One in eight hospital patients is affected by delirium, which can make people unsteady on their feet, increases the risk of developing dementia and can result in longer hospital stays or admission to a care home.

However, these problems can be avoided through timely and effective care, with a scheme in Salford increasing the number of patients correctly diagnosed with delirium by 34%, through the introduction of screening for all over-65s who are admitted to hospital.

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Doctors and nurses run through a symptoms checklist on a mobile computer or handheld device.

The scheme is just one of a series that is being rolled out across the country through the adoption of toolkits, known as blueprints, that allow any NHS hospital to implement improvements quicker and more easily to transform care and improve services for patients and staff.

Up to 200 lives a year are being saved at one hospital trust thanks to early recognition and treatment of sepsis using digital technology.

Screening for sepsis at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals’ emergency department is now at 100% and antibiotic administration for patients with sepsis within an hour has increased to 90% in the emergency department.

The use of police powers to detain people under the mental health act has fallen by 78% in the North East thanks to street triage teams, made up of NHS staff and police, equipped with mobile devices and remote access to a hospital’s electronic record system.

With full access to records, the street triage teams are able to look after patients and determine the most appropriate response based on both current circumstances and historic information.

The first batch of blueprints includes Salford’s assessment tool for delirium, Northumberland’s remote access and mobile working project and Liverpool’s E-sepsis tool.

Matthew Swindells, deputy chief executive of NHS England, said: “Using straightforward technology to its fullest in the NHS will not only improve patient care and safety, but can also free up staff time.

“Some NHS hospitals are already making a huge difference to the care they offer through digital tools, and with these new blueprints it will now be easier than ever for other NHS organisations to learn from the best we have and improve care for their patients faster.”

The blueprints have been created by hospitals on NHS England’s Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme, that is providing funding to 43 acute, mental health and ambulance trusts to help them digitise.

Will Smart, chief information officer for Health and Care, said: “The NHS Long Term Plan sets out our ambitions for a world class digital NHS using the best available technology.

“Our blueprinting work will help NHS trusts drive their use of digital far more quickly and cost effectively than has been possible in the past, adopting successful technology and projects that have already made an impact elsewhere.”

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Joe Peskett

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