Welch Allyn

Caring staff at Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, currently featuring in a new ITV hospital documentary 'Superhospital' have been demonstrating their star qualities to an audience of millions.


One of those qualities - a willingness to look at new ways of doing things - has been amply demonstrated in the Trust's recent decision to switch all 2,000 of its blood pressure monitoring devices over to Welch Allyn's unique FlexiPort blood pressure cuff system.


The result has not only saved the Trust money, most importantly, it has released nursing time back to caring for patients.


Before the changeover, blood pressure monitoring had been taking far longer than it should. Over the years, the Trust had built up a range of BP machines, each requiring dedicated cuffs and connectors.

As a result, nursing staff could lose precious minutes trying to find the right match. Some machines were under-used as a result; some not at all. Boxes of spare cuffs, some incorrectly ordered, built up on the wards.


Stephanie McCarthy, Clinical Procurement Nurse at Derby Teaching Hospitals had already led efforts to successfully standardise other core products such as gloves.


FlexiPortBlood pressure cuffs were an obvious candidate for a similar process - but only if worthwhile efficiencies, clinical benefits and cost savings could be achieved. 'We needed a generic system to fit every blood pressure machine - but it had to achieve savings of at least seven per cent,' she explains.


While there are many cuffs on the market, the unique features offered by the Welch Allyn FlexiPort system combined to make it the must-buy choice.


Easy to fit, use and remove, FlexiPort cuffs have a one-handed snap on, snap off connection and can be attached to patients in seconds - quicker and simpler than any other system.


A simple conversion in minutes is all it takes for FlexiPort cuffs to work with any blood pressure device, regardless of make or model.


Patient comfort is significantly improved with the rotatable port, which stops tubing causing patient discomfort, and can be swiftly moved aside during surgery while the cuff remains in position, making access far easier for theatre staff.


With one of the widest range of sizes available on the market, including five for adults, the Welch Allyn cuffs prioritise BP accuracy. In addition to reusable cuffs, there are also disposable equivalents, and a single-patient use version, particularly suitable for barriered patients.


The decision to go with Welch Allyn was made at the end of 2014. Following a successful trial in the MAU (Medical Assessment Unit)  - one of the busiest wards in the hospital - the hospital-wide conversion, was rolled out over an eight-week period in April and May this year.


More than 2,000 blood pressure devices across the hospital were equipped with the FlexiPort fitting and Welch Allyn FlexiPort cuffs.


Comprehensive support offered by Welch Allyn covered everything from preparing internal staff communications, to a physical presence on the wards during implementation, with Welch Allyn personnel working alongside Derby Teaching Hospital's technicians to ensure that the process was problem-free.


Conversion of the MAU's ten blood pressure devices averaged just a minute apiece - around 25 per cent faster than anticipated - and the process went so smoothly that staff were barely aware it had happened. 'I came to work one day and they were just in,' says MAU Sister Rebecca Pipes.


A month on, the changeover has been voted a complete success. Cuff and machine mismatches, stock shortages and incorrect ordering have been reduced to virtually zero.


Spending on cuffs is anticipated to reduce by 75% which equates to half a staff nurse's salary every year, well ahead of the Trust's seven per cent target.


Even better, 100 per cent of staff surveyed agree that their working lives are easier, enabling them to spend more time with their patients.


The long-term goal, says Stephanie McCarthy, is greater use of single patient use cuffs. 'Cuffs that could follow the patient all the way through is the golden aspiration.'


For now, however, there's universal praise for the way the Welch Allyn system has improved daily life for staff and patients. Their advice to other Trusts thinking of doing the same thing? 'Be brave and go for it.'


'We pride ourselves on providing a complete partnership to our customers,' says Jan McMeekin, Regional Sales Director at Welch Allyn UK Ltd. 'Successful standardisation is about far more than just the product. It's also about providing the 360 degree support that goes with it. Our work with Derby Teaching Hospitals shows just how effective this collaborative approach can be.'


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