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Smart access control solution for new London health centre

Monday 01 June 2015

As the number of people attending Accident and Emergency Departments and Acute Medical Units (AMU) continues to grow and put pressure on the NHS, a brand new medical centre in South West London is welcome news.

Spring Mews secured by integrated RFID access control systemp

Nelson Health Centre in Merton, South West London, is being developed on the site of the former Nelson Hospital on Kingston Road. NHS Merton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been leading on the planning of the clinical services at the facility and is currently working with the appointed service providers to equip and prepare the building for when it opens its doors to patients on 1 April.

Funded through a NHS Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT), a Private Public Partnership which has been developed with South London Health Partnerships Ltd (SLHP), the brand-new facility will mean a vastly improved patient experience for the local population, with clinical functionality and innovative technology at the very heart of the new centre.

The innovative healthcare centre, which will be a BREEAM (Health) excellent rated building, will provide a spacious and modern environment allowing more people to be seen diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible. Its full height glass entrance atrium will give users a good internal perspective of the centre before they even enter the building. Once inside, colour coded departments and self check in screens will help avoid queuing and the GP waiting areas have additional check-in screens and call screens to let patients know when they are ready to be seen and where they need to go.

Two local GP practices, The Cannon Hill Lane Medical Practice and The Church Lane Practice, are relocating to the new centre with the intention of forming a new single organisation bringing the best from both practices to deliver excellent care to their patients.

The centre will provide outpatient treatment in areas such as General medicine, General surgery, Gynaecology, Respiratory medicine, Rheumatology, Dermatology, Trauma and Orthopaedics, Diabetes, Cardiology, Urology, Colorectal surgery, Gastroenterology and Ophthalmology (provided by Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust ') as well as a host of other diagnostic and community services.

A fantastic, modern state of the art resource for the residents of Merton, there has been real attention given here as to how the NHS estate can help to improve efficiency, move more care out of hospitals and exploit new technologies.

This includes making provision for the security and safety of all staff that will work in the new centre through the specification and installation of a SALTO smart electronic access control solution. The challenges involved in securing a medical facility are unlike those in almost any other building. Most need to have relatively easy access because they want to provide a welcoming environment for patients. While this dictates that it is often necessary to allow for high levels of public access to the facility and its health service amenities, including the routes linking different departments, entry to many back of house areas and other facilities needs to be restricted for the protection of staff, patients and property.

Personal safety and crime prevention are obviously key issues for any medical centre, especially given that medical products and pharmaceuticals are usually stored on the premises. But managers in the health service are also required to address the legal implications of effective security as well. Legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act, the Occupiers Liability Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations impose a wide-ranging duty of care upon them and data protection laws also call for the strengthened safeguarding of personal information, a factor with clear relevance to the health service and its patient medical records.

The access control solution was supplied, installed and commissioned by local SALTO Partner TMB Systems Group.

Managing Director, Tony Burton, says 'Our brief was to design and install a secure, flexible and cost effective access control solution that was simple to use to meet both the NHS and end user's needs. To achieve this we recommended SALTO Systems and their battery operated wire free XS4 platform.

As the premier healthcare-tailored access control system used in hospitals all over the world, one of the biggest benefits of the SALTO XS4 solution is that it needs no hard wiring. Removing the need to cable saves time, hassle, disruption and, not least, significant sums of money, which is always important in an NHS project. Given the modern open plan design of the new centre it was also important that the security products fitted blended seamlessly with the design ethos and architecture of the building.

This has been achieved with a mix of offline and online doors, and now 62 high profile doors at the centre are fitted with offline networked XS4 handle sets in an attractive stainless steel finish. These include medical supply, medical room and surgical room doors, and these are supplemented by 37 online networked controllers.

The controllers utilize SALTO Virtual Network (SVN) software to enable the doors and their operating Mifare smart cards to be updated throughout the site and access profiles of staff to be changed rapidly as required adding real value to the access management of the centre.

Another important consideration for the centre was the fact that they wanted to control everything on-site with just a single card system. This means staff do not have to carry multiple cards around with them and using a multi-function card can provide a wide range of user benefits. We're now implementing this so that the access control and pay on foot parking systems are integrated and work together. In addition, we're also in early discussions with the centre with regard to using the cards for vending and photocopy machine use as well.'

SALTO SVN eliminates the physical restrictions of traditional stand alone electronic doors and can seamlessly integrate with other third party systems if required whilst allowing the centre's smart cards and locks to be updated, restricted or deleted remotely. The cards build up 'on-card' audit trails through normal use giving the centre complete control over all their access needs.

Commenting on the project, David Hill, Area Manager, SALTO Systems says, 'The vision for the Nelson Health Centre is to bring a wide range of health and care services closer to the local community and reduce trips to hospital. Their wish to implement modern technology to provide security for both the building and its staff is in line with our mission to provide excellent services to our healthcare customers.

Their smart cards can be programmed to allow access to specific rooms or areas within the centre for selected periods only, with the doors auto locking at pre-specified times if required. A couple of features of the systems they particularly like are blacklisting and staff roll call, and the fact that if key security is breached due to the loss of a card, it can be instantly deleted without the need or cost of changing locks ' saving Nelson Health Centre time and money.'