Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust is one of only three dedicated children’s hospital trusts in the UK, providing integrated healthcare for children and young people, including community and mental health care as well as acute and specialist services. Demand for their services is growing as they are increasingly delivering healthcare to patients over a wider geographical area as their reputation for providing outstanding specialist care grows.
They employ more than 3,000 people and strive to recruit and retain the best doctors, nurses, allied health workers and other professionals. The Trust is committed to being a leader in the field of training and research in children’s healthcare and continues to deliver a strong portfolio of research and product innovation.
Their purpose statement of ‘Providing a Healthier Future for Children and Young People’ has never been more evident than in their whole-hearted adoption of new ways of working to stay ahead of the curve and continue delivering outstanding care to their patients during a pandemic.
The Trust has had Modernising Outpatients program in place for two years prior to covid, that had been improving all aspects of the outpatient experience from IT equipment to new processes. They had been heading towards a hybrid model for consultations with a split between telephone, video and face-to-face - a trend which they expect to see continuing. With the onset of Covid, they knew virtual was here to stay and were faced with a new set of challenges, considering the best use of their outpatient real estate and what proportion of their services to take virtual, targeting 25% of initial calls and 60% of follow ups.
For an organization that cares so deeply about children that they have a special MRI scanner just for teddies so children can see what it’s like before they have a scan, maintaining continuity of services was of utmost importance to Sheffield Children’s.
Sheffield Children’s turned to Spacestor Healthcare for a solution, trialing three different virtual consultation pods in two locations with a view to conducting A/B/C testing to see which solution was most successful. Spacestor were glad to donate one of these pods to such a good cause! Protecting space for face-to-face consultations was a top priority for the Trust, so using individual pods with a small footprint provided more spaces for virtual clinics, increasing operational efficiency.
Edd Crawley, Improvement Project Manager at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust said: “It was great to make use of the virtual consultation pods in our hospital so we could learn more and protect space for face-to-face consultations for our patients who need them most. We see virtual consultations as playing an important and increasing role in how we deliver care and we look forward to developing this long term capability as we build a healthier future for children and young people.”
In the words of Dr Arun Urs, Consultant Paediatric Gastroenterologist, there are multiple benefits of adopting virtual appointments. It has enabled continuity of services, both for patients at very high risk or not able to travel and for colleagues who needed to shield who could continue working from home. In addition, it has had a huge impact environmentally - 85,000 virtual appointments avoided two million travel miles and 55 tonnes in CO2 emissions. There is a keen appetite at Sheffield Children’s to ensure new ways of working are not lost in the post-covid 19 world.