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South Staffordshire & Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFT) has made a £50,000 annual saving on its telephone costs after a review of its telecommunications infrastructure. In addition, it will potentially save around £5,000 per month after negotiating reduced call costs with suppliers, rationalising the quantity of phone lines and reducing the number of calls made to mobiles.

The Trust, which provides mental health services across Staffordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, is nearing completion of a project which reviews its telephony infrastructure across 125 sites.
Pete Kendal, Associate Director of Information, Management & Technology (IM&T) Development, explained: "We are constantly looking at ways in which the Trust can work more efficiently and reduce its overheads. Telephony is one such area. We have reviewed the technical infrastructure, including the number of phone lines, and have replaced old switchboards with new digital technology. This has eradicated the need for legacy maintenance contracts for a number of old-style switchboards and saved the Trust a £50,000 annual cost."

He continued: "We have also looked at our actual telephone bills in terms of the type and number of calls made. The new switchboards enable internal calls to be made free of charge and we have negotiated better rates with our suppliers for external calls which could result in potential savings of around £5,000 per month."

Dominic Tennant, senior project manager for the Telephony project, said: "The Trust has also introduced a new 0300 number and calls to it are charged at a local rate. In addition, our new digital switchboard recognises names, services and locations within the Trust and puts callers straight through without having to wait for someone to manually answer the phone. This system can answer four calls simultaneously but we still employ receptionists to handle calls when required."

For more information contact Dominic Tennant, Tel. 01785 221653,

Thanks to a local supermarket, people in Lichfield have easy access to mental wellbeing and mood management courses in their community.

The courses are run by Wellbeing Matters, a therapy service for adults from the Burntwood, Tamworth and Lichfield area who suffer with mild to moderate anxiety and depression. Based at The Wellbeing Centre, Beauchamp Road, Tamworth, the service is a partnership between South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Mental Health Matters. It offers psychological help to people experiencing issues such as depression, anxiety, panic, phobias, stress, trauma and low mood.

Tesco Extra in Lichfield are providing their community room free of charge as a venue for the weekly courses.

One course attendee said "It was really easy to access and there was lots of parking which made it easier to attend the course. I liked the fact that I go there anyway for shopping so it was a familiar place to go".

Dr Sarah Watts, Clinical Lead, Wellbeing Matters said "The idea of attending any mental health service can be a bit daunting so it is really helpful to be able to offer this support in a normal, community environment rather than a more formal health setting".

To access a course you need to be aged 16 or over and registered with a GP in Burntwood, Lichfield or Tamworth. Contact your GP for access codes and details of how to self-refer. Courses are also run at the Wellbeing Centre in Hockley, Tamworth.

Ten local amateur artists are featured in a new touring exhibition which has opened at Staffordshire County Council's Shire Hall library in Stafford.

The ten pieces were selected from the entries into an art competition run by the Arts for Health team at South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. This annual competition is open to people using the Trust's mental health, learning disability and specialist children's services; Trust staff; and friends and members of the organisation.

Helen Wilson, Arts for Health project officer says "We have been running the art competition for some years now and the standard has become so good that we wanted to give local people the opportunity to see and enjoy at least some of the entries. We are delighted that Staffordshire County Council has offered display space in both Stafford and Tamworth libraries".

The exhibition will remain in Stafford until 6 May and will then move on to Tamworth until July.

This year's competition is now open with a deadline for entries of 30 June 2015.

For more information contact Eleanor Babb on 01785 221328, or email

South Staffordshire & Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFT) has become one of the first mental health trusts in the UK to go paper-less after digitising over 1.6 million documents in a drive to further enhance patient care.

The Trust, which provides mental health services across South Staffordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin as well as some specialist services in Birmingham, Liverpool and Cambridge, have completed the digitisation of all their patient records. The project, which began in 2013, means clinical staff no longer use paper-based patient records. As part of the project over 1,636,000 documents for 298,809 existing and historical patients were scanned and digitised.

Dr Abid Khan, Deputy Clinical Director at the Trust said: "I'm delighted we're one of the first mental health trusts to be truly paper-less. The scanning and digitisation of all our paper medical records means our clinical staff can access patient information more quickly thereby enhancing the healthcare we can provide at the point of care."

He added: "It also means the handling of sensitive information is greatly improved as we have removed the security risks from misplacing information which was historically stored in paper formats."

Access to online records is particularly vital for clinical teams providing support to patients within the community. Steve Hill, Operations Manager for Lichfield & Burntwood Community Mental Health Team who has over 35 years' experience as a community psychiatric nurse, said: "Staff now have online access to a patient's health record when they're working in the community which enables us to work more efficiently as we can input up to date information quickly and securely. Overall, I believe communication about patients has vastly improved."

As a result of the project, the Trust will also benefit from a number of savings year on year including reduced stationery, print and transportation costs as well as less storage space required to house paper-based records.

The Department of Health (DoH) issued a challenge to all NHS organisations to digitise their patient records online by 2015. The Trust is currently working with other healthcare providers in the region regarding plans for a joined up electronic health care record which the DoH wants live by 2017.


News Category for 2014

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