Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust becomes first NHS Trust to be wireless enabled

Bucks 27 April 2004Scalable Networks, an independent network integrator and consultancy, has implemented a major wired and wireless enabled network for the Basildon & Thurrock University Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Trust. Supporting up to 3000 users across 27 wards at Basildon Hospital, and based on the Extreme Networks Summit 300 Unified Architecture, this is the first network of its kind deployed in an NHS Trust. As such, this installation is being viewed as a prototype model that is likely to be emulated by other NHS Trusts across the United Kingdom.

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Basildon & Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust wanted a single secure and seamless network for both wired and wireless access, thereby removing the need for two separate or parallel networks. The wireless element was seen as vital due to the predicted increase in the use of mobile IP devices in the Health Service over the coming years. New projects such as Information Care Record System (ICR), real-time bed management and bedside results reporting, plus the likely deployment of IP telephony and Wi-Fi mobile telephony, meant that the Trust had to develop an infrastructure that supported these future applications while keeping existing costs to a minimum.

As part of the British Government's major investment scheme in the NHS, this installation enables Basildon & Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust to improve its patient care as well as future proofing its network. The ability to roam wirelessly means that staff can now access critical information at the actual point of care, meeting patient needs faster and reducing errors. Administration staff and management will also be able to access files and information in meetings from handheld devices.

"While patient care is always our top priority, ensuring that future developments can be adopted as quickly and easily as possible is also very important. Both have been addressed with this solution", stated Matt Broughton, Network Systems Manager, Basildon & Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust. "Being wireless enabled, intelligent applications such as searching for correct terminology, seeing patient files, and being able to pull up diagrams used in diagnosis, can all be carried out at the bedside, making everything much more efficient. Not only is it useful technology for the doctors and nurses, but also administration staff, management and of course patients will also see definite benefits."

"We're very excited to be pioneering this new way of working in the NHS. We had considered rolling out wireless before, but at the time there were too many security issues associated with the technology. However, the Extreme switching system and Scalable Networks design have put these issues to rest, and we now have total confidence in the technology", continued Matt Broughton.

When the network is complete, 37 Extreme Summit 300 switches will be installed, supporting 10/100 switching plus Power over Ethernet and Secure Wireless. 37 Altitude 300 wireless access points will also be installed. "Wireless networking is one of the hot technologies of 2004, especially as security and integration issues have now been properly addressed", stated Simon Brown, Director of Scalable Networks. "This pioneering installation will allow other NHS Trusts to see wireless in action, and will hopefully convince them to follow suit."

Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust has an annual budget of GBP125 million, and treats 50.000 inpatients and daycases, provides nearly 200.000 outpatient consultations and treats over 70.000 accident and emergency patients a year. In 1998 it was designated an Associate University Teaching Hospital by University Hospital Medical School. The Trust primarily serves the 310.000 population of Basildon, Thurrock, Billericay and Wickford, with smaller patient flows from the neighbouring districts of Brentwood and Castle Point. It is one of only a dozen Trusts to obtain 3 stars in all 3 years of the Government's star ratings scheme.

The Trust provides services across three sites, Basildon Hospital, Orsett Hospital and the St. Andrews Centre in Billericay. Over GBP30 million has been invested in the last few years expanding and modernising Basildon Hospital and improving Orsett Hospital, including a three-storey ward block opened at Basildon in June 2002 to facilitate the centralisation of all inpatient services onto the main hospital site. Basildon Hospital has also been announced as the site for a multi million pound Cardiothoracic Centre, due to open in 2007.

Scalable Networks plc is an independent network integrator and consultancy with wide experience of high-speed network migration, voice and data convergence, and security and network management technologies. It has a selected core portfolio of hardware and software products from strategic vendors, including Extreme Networks, Cisco Systems, NetScout, NetScreen and Netilla. Scalable is also recognised as an industry expert in the implementation of Voice over IP (VoIP) solutions and the migration of mixed topology and Token Ring networks to "content-aware" Ethernet and IP environments.


Leslie Versweyveld

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