Wireless technology for Leeds hospitals EXCLUSIVE

Doctors at Leeds hospitals will be able to access patient information at the bedside as wireless technology is installed.

The 3.5m system will mean that medics could save an hour per ward round, freeing up extra time to care for patients.

Hospital bosses have agreed to put in the wireless network in the district's five hospitals after a successful pilot scheme.

Currently doctors have to go back to fixed computers to look at test and examination results and records.

With the new technology they will be able to carry a computer with them as they walk around wards and can look at information instantly.

Directors at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust heard that a pilot in the respiratory and oncology departments had been successful, especially in "delivering significant time savings in ward rounds and improving their quality".

They were also told that other hospitals, including in York, Newcastle and Liverpool, had installed similar systems.

Eileen Jessop, deputy director of informatics, said: "One of the benefits that wireless can deliver is bringing the information to the bedside.

"The trials have gone really well. The results from both the staff and in patient satisfaction have been really positive."

She said that the technology would be installed in phases and the whole programme would take four years.

"I think this is one of those building blocks that we cannot afford not to do," Ms Jessop added.

Though there are no direct financial benefits, hospital bosses were told that potential savings included through fewer serious untoward incidents occurring and earlier decisions being made about patients being discharged.

The wireless network would also allow them to set up a trust-wide mobile phone network and enable them to exactly track the location of equipment.

In response to a question about security, Ms Jessop said the computers were currently locked down and if introducing small handheld devices was proposed in future, security would be considered then. Security of the wireless network itself was not an issue.

Wi-fi for patients could be provided by the technology, but was "not a priority at this stage", she added.

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