Digital practice

South Tyneside and Sunderland FT achieves GDE accreditation

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust’s (STSFT) Sunderland Royal Hospital has become the first in the NHS to complete all requirements, in the national Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme. 

The GDE accreditation is given to NHS organisations using world-class digital technologies to improve patient care. This makes STSFT the first organisation in the NHS to achieve all requirements of the programme. 

Director of Information Management and Technology, Andy Hart, accepted the trust’s official GDE accreditation from NHSX at a virtual ceremony yesterday.

Five years ago, Sunderland Royal Hospital set out to become ‘paper-free at the point of care’ by 2021. The hospital is one of just 16 trusts across the country to be recognised as a GDE site. 

Mr Hart said: “Achieving our paper-free ambitions through the GDE programme has only been possible thanks to support from NHSX and NHS Digital, and a long-standing commitment from the whole organisation, right from the Board to all clinical colleagues on the shop floor. I’m immensely proud of what we have achieved. 

“Having joined up and highly effective IT systems in the NHS is by no means an easy feat but it is a fundamental enabler to delivering excellent patient care. We will now continue to build on our GDE success to keep pushing the boundaries of innovation even further.  We look forward to sharing our learning with other NHS organisations who need support in rolling out digital solutions.” 

Using Sunderland Royal Hospital’s ‘GDE blueprint’, South Tyneside District Hospital rolled out the trust’s Electronic Patient Record (EPR) in record time, despite the pressures of the pandemic. 

STSFT have been advancing their digital systems since 2016, investing over £25m, which hugely improved patient care. All clinical teams now have access to live, up-to-date digital patient information at Sunderland Royal Hospital, from all departments.  

Sunderland Royal Hospital also became the first trust in the North East (and second across England) to be awarded the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) EMRAM Level 7 status, in December 2020.  HIMSS Level 7 is a further international standard for digital adoption within a hospital setting, making STSFT one of a few organisations worldwide to achieve the highest possible global digital quality standards. 

Dr Kevin Joisce, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Chief Clinical Information Officer at STSFT, said: “For many years, our Board has championed the pivotal role of technology in the safe and effective delivery of modern-day NHS care. 

“Technology is embedded in everything we do, in all of our clinical processes and all of our nursing workflows - it is a fundamental part of how we deliver patient care.  Our GDE programme has been pivotal in helping us realise our paper-free ambitions to an extent where we have successfully eliminated our reliance on paper-based systems, with significant benefits to patient care across all trust facilities. 

NHSX Director of Frontline Digitisation, Dermot Ryan, said: “South Tyneside and Sunderland is an excellent example of the difference the use of digital technologies can make to patients and staff. I’m delighted to be able to present their accreditation today. 

“At NHSX we want to support all parts of the NHS to digitally transform. Our new Digital Aspirant programme is focusing on those organisations who need extra help, with over 60 local bodies benefitting so far.” 

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The integration of new technology, such as using virtual outpatient appointments instead of face-to-face reviews of patients in the hospital. Adapting the ways in which our NHS workers serve people has been critical in continuing to provide high-quality treatment, a positive patient experience and preventing Covid-19 transmission during the pandemic. Our healthcare sector has the potential to transform the way we continue to provide essential services while also improving patient care. But how easy is the integration of these innovations into routine NHS practice?

On the 28th of October, at the NHE365 Virtual Hospitals & Technology Enabled Care online event, we will be discussing patient flow and experience, reducing waiting times, reducing the patient backlog and increasing technology adoption. Will you be attending? 

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