Illustration of hospital for Digital at Point of Care for the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust

Digital at Point of Care for Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we work, and meant that many organisations had to adapt quickly to maintain operations. The NHS was no exception.

The Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust understands the value of digital transformation in achieving better patient outcomes through process and system improvements. After all, with more than 13,000 staff and 2.5 million patients a year, they’re one of the largest providers of specialised medical services in England.

As a result, for the last five years, they have been spearheading digital transformation as one of the first Digital Exemplars for NHS England. They have done this by embracing many services and technologies, including virtual records management (VRM).

The digital transformation

15 miles of box files

As part of their Digital Road Map, the Trust set a goal of moving to electronic patient records by 2020. And they were making good progress. They had already planned process and system improvements that would get them there. They had a digitisation program in place for medical records for over 20 years. So, they were well ahead of the game.

In addition to this, they had a goal of digitising 1.5 million sets of current patient notes within five years.

Yet, despite their careful planning and forward thinking, no-one could have anticipated COVID-19 hitting the UK in early 2020.

The COVID gauntlet

In early 2020, NHS Trusts went into a state of emergency. As a result of the pandemic, there was an urgency to release badly needed real estate to allow distanced working and extra treatment capacity.

By summer, the challenge was set. The Trust needed to catalogue, transport, and securely manage over 1 million sets of patient notes to an offsite location. All while retaining 24/7 access to these records to ensure a continuity of patient care.

That’s where Datatron came in.

Trusted partner

We have worked with the Trust since 1999, having created one of the largest digital medical records archives in the UK for them.

This pre-existing relationship, and our advanced scanning and cataloguing systems, enabled them to quickly and carefully create an urgent action plan. Then, alongside Trust Medical Records Staff, we individually catalogued and transported over 62,000 archive boxes of patient notes.

To give you an idea of scale, that’s over 15 miles of boxes laid end-to-end. We planned the operation to the hour.

1.5 million patient notes

We moved and tracked 9,000 sets of notes per day for four months. This was a herculean tasks requiring thousands of working hours from experienced Medical Records Staff and trained Datatron personnel.

As a result, we moved all the files safely, and the Trust maintained continuity of patient care at the height of the global crisis.

Reap the rewards

All hard work should be met with an equal amount of reward. And this project is no exception.

After all, our dedicated team executed it with military precision under unprecedented pressure. And the benefits the Trust gained are invaluable:

  • The release of thousands of square metres of prime clinical space for admin and patient care.
  • The redistribution of a highly trained medical administration team into badly needed areas.
  • An automated process of digital at point of care with Datatron’s unique VRM system.
  • The ability to search, request and receive the paper files in digital format direct to the Trust's EDMS.
  • A saving to the Trust of millions of pounds in the reuse of valuable city centre NHS real estate.
  • The benefit of a secure and efficient medical records facility with a Digital at the Point of Care Service 24/7, 365.


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