21st Century Communications for North Staffordshire Hospitals

Communications integrator Affiniti has been awarded a PFI contract worth £67.6 million over 37 years to manage, design and implement all current and future ICT services for two new hospitals in North Staffordshire. The overall PFI construction project is worth £361 million and was awarded to Healthcare Support (North Staffs) Ltd, a consortium between John Laing Social Infrastructure (a division of John Laing plc) and Sodexho.

From December 2007 Affiniti, a Kingston Communications business, will take on responsibility for managing all of the existing voice and data systems for the current buildings that make up the University Hospital of North Staffordshire and Haywood Hospital with approximately 3000 users. As the new buildings and systems come on line, these too will be incorporated within the managed service. At the same time Affiniti will be responsible for designing and implementing state of the art communications systems for the two new hospitals to be constructed in the Stoke-on-Trent area.

Through North Staffordshire’s Fit for the Future healthcare project, the advanced ICT services from Affiniti will enable clinicians and other hospital staff to log in and work anywhere, from laptops, IP phones and PDAs. They will be able to access information from anywhere on campus, whether inside or outside of buildings, helping them to perform tasks more efficiently, including diagnosing and monitoring patients. The services will include unified communications with campus-wide wireless, IP telephony and mobile deployment. Video conferencing facilities and a small contact centre will also be deployed. The ICT services will also underpin the Facilities Management services as well as leading edge medical equipment and clinical applications such as Picture Archiving Communications Systems (PACS).

The Fit for the Future project will transform the healthcare environment in the Stoke on Trent area and includes construction of an 11,000sq m community hospital to be known as Haywood Hospital which will be completed by 2009; and a 90,000sq m acute hospital, to be known as University Hospital of North Staffordshire for completion in 2014.

Mike Brereton, Chairman of University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, is delighted the project has come to fruition and says, “This area has been in need of new hospitals and a new way of providing healthcare for many years, but this PFI construction programme is about more than new hospital buildings. It is a major element in the drive to regenerate the economy of North Staffordshire. The impact of the Fit for the Future programme and the work of our partners over the next few years will transform the quality of life of our children and our grandchildren. Nothing could be more important.”

Paul Renucci, Managing Director of Affiniti, said: “We are extremely pleased to have been awarded this PFI contract. It represents the commencement of a long term partnership with University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust and Stoke on Trent Primary Care Trust. We are working closely with all organisations involved to ensure that the solutions we provide meet, and hopefully exceed, their expectations. By upgrading, managing and refreshing the ICT services we provide, Affiniti will ensure that these new hospitals in North Staffordshire will have the functionality to support their key medical facilities and address their ambitions for improved patient care and greater efficiency.”

Affiniti has had previous success in winning PFI contracts in the healthcare sector. In June last year, it secured a 12 and a half year, £20 million contract with the University Hospital of Birmingham through Balfour Beatty’s PFI healthcare vehicle, Consort Healthcare.

Affiniti will maintain a permanent onsite network management team with service delivery, engineering and operations staff to provide day-to-day support and help in maintaining the high priority service levels. Affiniti will also be responsible for periodically refreshing the technology over the lifetime of the contract to ensure that the North Staffordshire Hospitals become and remain exemplary in the services they offer to staff and patients.