INNOVATIVE use of digital technology at Morriston Hospital has come under the spotlight as part of a Wales-wide review.
Llanelli AM Lee Waters is leading a digital panel into public service transformation on behalf of the Welsh Government.
He visited Morriston Hospital where the renal unit has made pioneering advances in the use of digital technology.
This has not only improved the way care is delivered but also how people with kidney disease can access it. Mr Waters saw the system in action and was given a presentation explaining how these improvements have been made over the years – and how clinical and IT staff came together to identify issues and find their own solutions.
Mr Waters said: “It’s not just consultant-led or IT-led. It was the whole team coming together and saying, how can we make what we do simpler and how do we develop new processes to make it smoother, for the benefit of patients?
“It’s a simple idea but devilishly complex to do. Yet they’ve been able to do it in Morriston, so if they can do it, others can do it too.
“What’s stopping that from happening is what the panel I’m leading is considering so we can make recommendations to the Welsh Government, hopefully in the next few weeks, of how to bring about change to the whole of Wales.”
Mr Waters met the team that made this happen: Renal Consultant James Chess, Consultant Renal Pharmacist Chris Brown, Senior Renal Pharmacy Technician Dafydd James, Renal IT Engineer Mike Wakelyn, and Renal Sister Debbie Hopkins.
Digital healthcare is vitally important because Morriston provides a regional renal service for thousands of patients across South West Wales. This includes people needing dialysis or who have had a transplant, all of whom require complex and lifelong medication.
The renal unit has its own dedicated Renal Medicines Service, a specialist pharmacy team working with the nephrologists, nurses and the multi-disciplinary renal team to manage these treatments.
Consultant Renal Pharmacist Chris Brown said the scale and complexity of the operation was astonishing, adding: “Making our service digital is key to making high quality care possible. Digital tools are key to making our service and care records accessible to patients.”
The unit electronically prescribes and manages medicines through a module housed within a renal electronic patient record. This e-record integrates every aspect of a patient’s care on a single platform, allowing for a highly efficient medicines management process. It also puts patients at the centre of their own care, allowing them to make decisions about their treatments by giving them digital access to their information through their smartphone or computer.
The most recent development is an Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration (EPMA) system. This will digitise the region’s hospital-based dialysis units in Swansea, Aberystwyth, Carmarthen and Haverfordwest. Each week thousands of drugs and dialysis treatments are given in these units. The renal EPMA is fully integrated into the e-record. This allows electronic prescribing and electronic recording of the administration of treatments in a single digital system – placing everything needed to deliver care at the fingertips of health professionals.
Renal Consultant James Chess said: “The renal EPMA was designed in-house. This was not just a lower-cost option than buying a commercial system but also meant it could be developed specifically to meet the renal service’s requirements.”
Understanding what the entire clinical team needed ensured the EPMA met their requirements and was user-friendly – such as incorporating touch-screen technology so nurses can access it quickly at the bedside.
Mr Waters said: “The impressive thing about it is, it comes from the whole team; it has been an organic change driven locally.
“It isn’t some government minister saying I want you to do this.
“This is the people working on the front line saying, we think there’s a better way of doing this and we are going to show, locally, how that can be done.
“It’s real innovation in practice, overcoming all the barriers locally and showing there’s an alternative way to do it.”
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Local coronavirus restrictions imposed to control outbreaks in South Wales
Coronavirus laws are being tightened in four more Welsh authorities – Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport – following a sharp rise in cases, Health Minister Vaughan Gething today announced.
The new measures will come into force at 6pm on Tuesday 22 September 2020, to protect people’s health and control the spread of the virus in the four local authority areas.
The new restrictions will apply to everyone living in Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport:
People will not be allowed to enter or leave these areas without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education;
People will only be able to meet people they don’t live with outdoors for the time being. They will not be able to form, or be in, extended households;
All licensed premises will have to close at 11pm;
Everyone over 11 will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public areas – as is the case across Wales.
From 6pm on Tuesday 22 September, the requirement for all licensed premises to close at 11pm will also be extended to Caerphilly borough.
Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:
“Following the decision to place additional coronavirus restrictions in place in Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf, we have seen a worrying and rapid rise in cases in four other south Wales council areas – Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport.
“In many cases, this is linked to people socialising indoors without social distancing. We are seeing evidence of coronavirus spreading. We need to take action to control and, ultimately, reduce its spread and protect people’s health.
“It’s always a difficult decision to introduce restrictions but coronavirus has not gone away – it is still circulating in communities across Wales and, as we are seeing in parts of South Wales, small clusters can quickly cause real issues in local communities.
“We need everyone’s help to bring coronavirus under control. We need everyone to pull together and to follow the measures which are there to protect you and your loved ones.”
The restrictions are being introduced following a rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases in coronavirus, which have been linked to people meeting indoors, not following social distancing guidelines and returning from summer holidays overseas.
The Welsh Government will call an urgent meeting of all local authority, health board and police forces from Bridgend to the English border tomorrow to discuss the wider situation in South Wales and whether further measures are needed across the region to protect people’s health.
The new local restrictions measures will be kept under regular review. They will be enforced by local authorities and by the police.
Keep Wales safe by:
Always keeping your distance
Washing your hands regularly
Working from home wherever you can
Following any local restrictions
Following the rules about meeting people
Staying at home if you or anyone in your extended household has symptoms.
Welsh legislation will restrict those travelling from hotspot areas
MARK Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, has today announced legislation which will restrict those coming from coronavirus hotspot’s from travelling to Wales.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has refused to impose rules which prohibit those from areas where the infection rate is high from entering low virus rate areas’s.
Mr Drakeford has made two requests to the Prime Minister requesting to impose rules which will mean those from high virus areas in England be prohibited from travelling to Wales, a request which has been denied by Mr Johnson.
The powers set by Mr Drakeford will come into force by the end of the week, unless Boris Johnson takes action sooner.
Speaking at the Plenary today, Mr Drakeford made the announcement, stating if Mr Johnson does not reply to his request by Friday then The Welsh Government will bring in legislation to restrict travel from those in English lockdown areas travelling to Wales.
Mr Drakeford said this was not a case of all those from England being restricted travel to Wales, just hotspot areas.
He said: “Evidence from public health professionals suggests coronavirus is moving from east to west across the UK and across Wales. As a general rule, it is concentrating in urban areas and then spreading to more sparsely populated areas as a result of people travelling.
“Much of Wales in now subject to local restriction measures because levels of the virus have risen and people living in those areas are not able to travel beyond their county boundary without a reasonable excuse. This is designed to prevent the spread of infection within Wales and to other areas of the UK.
“We are preparing to take this action to prevent people who live in areas where there are higher Covid infection rates across the UK from travelling to Wales and bringing the virus with them.
“I am determined to keep Wales safe.”
The legislation, which is understood to come into force Friday, October 16 at 6pm, will mean those travelling to Wales from areas of England which are classed as virus hotspot’s will be restricted.
The new legislation also restricts those travelling into Wales from high virus prevalence areas from Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament – Paul Davies MS – has rounded on the First Minister over a ban on people entering Wales from England, and the Labour Party’s inability or unwillingness to publish comprehensive data proving that transmission rates are accelerating due to travel.
Mr Davies took the First Minister to task during Plenary today (October 14), and referred to a statement made by the leader of the Labour Party on September 23 when he said that the Welsh Government was not seeing any spikes at all in infection due to travel and tourism.
Mr Davies said that the people of Wales deserve to have sight of the data that underpins the Welsh Labour-led Government’s position on this matter, so that they can be confident that the Government’s actions are proportionate to the threat of the virus in their area.
Mr Davies also referred to a paper that accompanied the First Minister’s letter to the Prime Minister yesterday, a paper – that was not peer-reviewed – that confirms the data “…does not constitute definitive proof” in favour of a travel ban.
Mr Davies said: “The First Minister and his Government have acted rashly and without examining a range of other factors before a conclusion on whether to impose a travel ban or not is reached, while at the same time seemingly ignoring the fact that transmission rates in relation to travel had already peaked in August and September.
“It is incumbent on the First Minister to explain just why he has chosen to act in this way, and what supporting evidence he and his Ministers have seen to justify a ban and then publish it so it can be properly scrutinised.
“If he cannot or will not, then he must review and rescind this ban immediately.”
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