Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

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James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry. James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
December 13, 2022

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The Video Surveillance Report 2023

Healthcare security

Taking a lead on safety and security in the health service

Innovative use of technology is transforming staff protection for one NHS trust. To find out how, IFSEC Global spoke to Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) Security Manager Wayne Sherratt about this vision that could see his trust supporting the developing Integrated Care Partnerships in Kent. 

From the start of July, a new management structure was introduced across NHS England, designed among other things to encourage new efficiencies in the way health and care services are delivered.

Wayne Sherratt, Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust42 Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) were created across the English regions; new statutory bodies that bring together health trusts, local authorities, voluntary agencies, and other partners concerned with improving wellbeing for their local populations and with tackling healthcare inequalities. Each ICB will include a number of Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) which are collaborative networks of service providers. They include healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and hospital specialists; the voluntary and community sectors; local council representatives; and service users and carers.

In KCHFT, plans are well advanced to not only transform staff safety and security using innovative technology, but to provide direct communication links to their team managers and key advisors more efficiently than has ever previously been possible.

At a time when resources and staffing levels are under enormous pressure, these two developments – the reform of the NHS’s regional management structures, and a ground-breaking application of security and safety technology – could be aligning at just the right moment.

The technology innovations are being led by the trust’s Corporate Operations Service at KCHFT, and their Security Team.

We discussed the challenges facing the healthcare sector in depth with Roger Ringham, Chair of the National Association of Healthcare Security Professionals (NAHS) and Darren Chalmers Stevens of CriticalArc in episode 8 of the IFSEC Global Security in Focus podcast. Have a listen via the player below…

Fostering collaboration to improve security processes within the NHS

Trust Security Manager, Wayne Sherratt, along with his deputy, Guy Miller, have suggested that if the technology works as well as they believe, they could be in a strong position to support other services within the ICPs, something which the trust is seeking to develop.

One of the stated aims of the new ICBs is to encourage this kind of innovation and seek opportunities to collaborate with other partnership members. Under the new system, when innovations are developed in one part of the NHS and are proven to work, it is envisaged that they will be shared with other ICP members with opportunities created to adopt those innovations. This is a significant change from the old model of internal markets and artificial competition, which did allow localised innovation but did not encourage advances to be shared outside the organisations.

It is hoped that the new structure will hit that sweet spot that still promotes local innovation but then also allows it to spread.

Wayne explains that as each of the NHS trusts in Kent develop their roles within the ICPs, there will be opportunities for KCHFT to demonstrate how they can support the other ICP groups with supporting staff safety and developing communication for those frontline staff.

“As a community health trust, we have approximately 3,500 frontline staff working in small teams from local facilities – health centres, GPs, local clinics, and drop-in clinics etc. with many colleagues working alone delivering care in peoples’ homes. We’ve been focusing particularly hard on improving protection for those people who find themselves working alone at any time of their working day.”

In fact, he has been keen to develop more effective solutions supporting lone workers since 2014, when he joined the trust following 25 years as a serving officer in Kent Police.

With currently 264 different teams, the trust’s four directorates each have responsibility for lone worker protection and the budgets have been centralised and managed through the trust’s Corporate Operations Team, with direct management support of the system provided by the trust Security Team. With one overarching solution being used, costs have been reduced and a much more powerful infrastructure is being established, using CriticalArc’s SafeZone technology.

Protecting frontline staff

It is not just providing a lone working support solution; it will be a foundation upon which the trust can develop other SafeZone tools to support staff during incidents and the ability to communicate safely with their teams and other peers.

The technology was acquired through the UK Government Cloud 12 Framework and is being delivered in partnership with Chubb UK. The service will help provide rapid emergency assistance for the trust’s staff, with specialist help available regardless of the user’s location, with SafeZone pinpointing checked-in users and enabling control room operators to coordinate faster responses.

Chubb’s 24/7 lone worker alarm receiving centre will ensure seamless monitoring and support at night, maintaining uninterrupted response even when the trust’s in-house security team isn’t available, the organisation explains. Chubb’s trained team of operators will provide advice for staff requesting help and contact the police as needed. The trust is also supported in this venture by Kent Police, developing their existing well-positioned and collaborative working partnership.

CriticalArc's SafeZone

CriticalArc’s SafeZone is expected to improve communication between care teams and their team leaders

SafeZone is also expected to improve communication and coordination between care teams and their team leaders. Encrypted communication for the teams and their members will allow the trust to develop communications between teams within the same directorate, and to access specialist advisors when required. SafeZone will also provide opportunities for staff to leave push messages and report low level incidents to specialist advisors and this is a direction the trust security team is keen to explore.

Encouraging staff to use SafeZone to report minor incidents, suspicious events, defective equipment, damage to the clinical areas or the estate is expected to lead to more accurate recording of such incidents. Those reports can be linked direct to the appropriate support service and specialist advisors allowing clinical line managers to provide advice and additional support. This streamlining of processes will make it more likely that staff will report problems, says Wayne.

“Part of your PPE” – Building trust in security technology

So far, it’s the lone worker function that has been the focus, and the results have been impressive. The trust has seen a significant rise in the provision for its lone workers from 350 staff using the previous system to 4,724 staff registered with SafeZone. Not all staff registered are using the system daily, but that provision is in place for all staff who find themselves working alone at any point of their working day. The trust security team is encouraging frontline workers to think of the SafeZone app as being a part of their personal protective equipment, like their masks, gloves, or gowns.

Whether the risk is accident, sudden illness or assault, staff know they are being covered by the system every minute they are on duty. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“When alarms have been activated we contact staff directly. Most of the alarms we respond to are activations made in error but, anecdotally, the response from staff is positive with staff telling us they know we are looking after their safety. Our security team has spoken to hundreds of staff during our response and training and for the first time we’re really getting through to people.”

The benefits of this wider engagement are being felt not just in increased staff confidence: “The security team is now much more in the foreground. We are in contact with other services and stakeholders on a daily basis, which means we are influencing change and are no longer seen as just reactive.”

Security technology – Influencing culture change

NHS-CriticalARC-22This greater engagement will be further boosted by the next stage development within the trust: the introduction of tip reporting. This will allow every SafeZone user to report issues of concern, anonymously if they wish – concerns that might be anything from potential safety hazards, suspicious activity on sites or even broken or defective equipment.

By making it easy for staff to highlight issues at the touch of a button, and by automating systems for recording and addressing them, Wayne believes that the new technology can drive far reaching, positive culture change, with everyone empowered to play a part.

And of course, the ever-present risks of live incidents and reporting suspicious activities provides opportunities to develop risk patterns and deploy resources in an effort to reduce the risk to staff and the trust.

“I think our Health and Safety, Security, Risk Management and Information Governance departments are at the top of their fields” he says. “With our experience of collaboration on this new technology we are well placed to demonstrate how we can support other ICP organisations – and we’ll be happy to share our experiences with other NHS trusts. We believe passionately that if those frontline staff know they can do their job in a safer and secure environment, then they can focus on delivering outstanding care to the people of Kent.”

In October, The National Association for Healthcare Security (NAHS) honoured the trust for its transformative use of technology with a Healthcare Security Innovation Award at the 2022 Annual Healthcare Security Awards and was recognised by peers as a finalist at the Security & Fire Excellence Awards.

Listen to the IFSEC Insider podcast!

Each month, the IFSEC Insider (formerly IFSEC Global) Security in Focus podcast brings you conversations with leading figures in the physical security industry. Covering everything from risk management principles and building a security culture, to the key trends ahead in tech and initiatives on diversity and inclusivity, the podcast keeps security professionals up to date with the latest hot topics in the sector.

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