NHS staff to receive free access to Microsoft Teams and Locum’s Nest

Technology companies stepping up to help NHS in struggle against coronavirus.
By Sophie Porter
02:40 AM

Credit: Bongkarn Thanyakij from Pexels

Microsoft Teams is being rolled out to all NHS staff in England and Scotland to enable greater communications, no matter where staff are. This will allow staff who are self-isolating to work remotely more effectively and hopefully ease pressure on hospital staff. It will also streamline communication between medical professionals and enable patients to better access important information on the virus, limiting the number admitted to hospital.

The instant messaging and calling platform is being adopted by NHS Digital and integrated into its Secure Boundary security system, and will be accessible to all users of NHSmail from today (20 March). Other NHS organisations that do not use NHSmail will also be granted access directly through Microsoft.

Locum’s Nest have also announced that they are opening up their shift-matching software to the NHS for free from yesterday (19 March) until at least July 2020. This will allow the health service to recruit clinicians on a temporary basis in response to increased need from the COVID-19 outbreak. The company, which has a roster of 25,000 clinicians, has set up a dedicated ‘Covid Response Taskforce’ to “rapidly and remotely deploy the software within 10 days”, reads a statement on their decision.

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The move will benefit both pre-existing and new partnerships with Locum’s Nest and enable increased digital recruitment strategies, extended customer support hours and a cut in usage charges for existing contracts.

WHY IT MATTERS

As the coronavirus spreads in the UK, the NHS is put under increasing pressure, particularly as frontline staff are exposed to the virus and are having to self-isolate.

By implementing these technological strategies, the strain on workers is reduced, giving them the option to work remotely if necessary, improving efficiency of communication and opening up a pool of local clinicians to stem staffing shortages without the usual red tape.

THE LARGER PICTURE

At the time of publishing, the UK has lost over 144 citizens to coronavirus, with more than 3,269 others with confirmed infections, the 10th most in the world. Hospitals are regularly exceeding 90% occupancy of beds in intensive care, particularly in rural areas who were some of the worst hit by austerity cut-backs.

ON THE RECORD

Cindy Rose, CEO of Microsoft UK, said of the roll-out: “Microsoft is fully committed to assisting the NHS at this incredibly challenging time. The use of Microsoft Teams will ensure the hardworking doctors, nurses and support staff across all NHS organisations have the collaboration tools they need to carry out their vital work. We are hugely appreciative of their ongoing efforts to tackle COVID-19 and will continue to provide support however best we can”.

Stephen Kelly, Board Director for Locum’s Nest, mirrored her admiration of UK medical staff, saying: “The NHS is run by amazing, committed, kind, selfless people at every level, but extraordinary events like this put our incredible health professionals under enormous pressure. Locum’s Nest can help to make sure vacant shifts are filled quickly, easily and efficiently with our leading platform - we are humbled to help our NHS manage this very human and economic crisis”.

Deputy CEO of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said “It is fantastic that [the] product [is] free of charge to trusts so that temporary staff can fill shifts where they are most urgently needed and those who have left the NHS can be helped to come back to work.”

 

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(Top row: left to right) Dr Charles Alessi, HIMSS, Dr Peter Gocke, Charité in Berlin (Germany)

(Bottom row: left-right) Dr Afzal Chaudhry, Cambridge University Hospitals (UK), Dr Jan Kimpen, Philips (Netherlands)

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