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Major NHS intensive care contract awarded for Wales

NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) has awarded a major contract worth £13m to Ascom to develop and manage a national Critical Care Information System for Wales over a seven-year period, with an option to extend for a further three years and includes the end-to-end implementation through a managed service contract.

The contract award came following a public procurement process and will see intensive care staff across Wales’ 14 standard adult critical care units more effectively manage all aspects of care electronically, leveraging Ascom’s Digistat clinical information system (CIS).

Previously, just three of Wales’ units used electronic systems from other suppliers, while the remainder used paper.

As part of the procurement process, the Welsh Critical Care and Trauma Network took careful measures to establish the scope of the chosen system, which needed to interface with key elements of the NHS Wales framework for information systems. The chosen service similarly had to integrate with other key national software, including the country’s hospital electronic prescribing and medication administration system – which is being developed in parallel.

The contract award to Ascom represents the company’s biggest-ever single contract worldwide. The company operates in 18 countries globally.

Having been awarded the contract, they are now working with NHS Wales staff to standardise care pathways as much as possible. Individual configurations will then be tailored as the new software is implemented at each hospital. The system will also integrate with systems from other suppliers.

It is designed to enable ICU staff to:

  • Record patient assessments electronically
  • Manage prescriptions and drug administration at the bedside
  • Connect with bedside equipment to record vital signs and fluid balance
  • Calculate a patient’s acuity scores
  • Better manage infection control
  • Manage daily care plans
  • Create reports on results and department objectives
  • Support national audit and research needs

Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, said: “Our Welsh intensive care services deliver extraordinary services helping people when they are critically ill.

“The introduction of this innovative technology will enhance the care patients receive and allow doctors and nurses to spend as much time as possible caring for patients. The use of technology to deliver a sustainable NHS is a key part of A Healthier Wales, our long-term strategy for health and social care in Wales."

Ascom UK Managing Director Paul Lawrence added: “We are absolutely delighted to secure this important contract and look forward to working closely with NWIS to ensure a smooth rollout.

“Our partnership will move critical care units away from paper and on to a system that will make life easier for clinicians, freeing up thinking time in a highly pressurised environment, and provide a single source of truth for patient information.

“This will not only help improve patient care at the bedside, but benefit audit and research, to refine best practice and critical care structures in the future.

“Digistat’s architecture makes it uniquely suitable for Wales due to the flexibility of the software. It allows us to create a common layer interface while tailoring Digistat’s configuration to support local workflows and requirements in each unit.”

Ascom UK will begin rolling out the technology to The Grange University Hospital in Newport from early next year, followed by a phased rollout to other units until 2023. More than 10,000 people were admitted to Wales’ 198 intensive care beds in 2019.

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