NEW gadgets similar to Fitbits are being introduced at Southend Hospital to combat long A&E waits, bed blocking and poor patient transfers between departments.

The introduction of the hi-tech scheme comes after a report highlighted that “extreme pressure” had prompted a rise in the number of people waiting more than four hours to be seen in A&E.

In an effort to combat the issues, including a lack of available beds and a “smooth flow” through the hospital, new technology that uses Fitbit-style bracelets to track beds, staff and patients will be introduced this month.

The real-time technology, called TeleTracking Technologies, detects electronic badges and bracelets attached to patients, staff and equipment.

Similar to air traffic control centres, staff have a real-time view of bed status, which patients need to be allocated a bed, where specific types of equipment are and the nearest housekeeping or portering staff available to clear a bed or help transport a patient.

Yvonne Blücher, managing director, said: “The demand on our emergency department has not eased throughout the year, and this demand in conjunction with the hot weather we experienced during the summer holiday period resulted in a drop in our four hour performance.

“TeleTracking is an electronic system that will help us improve the flow of patients through our hospital by giving us centralised, real-time bed status information.

“A real-time view of bed availability and demand will help us ensure patients are admitted to the right ward first time. Placing the right patient to the right bed every time will improve patient safety and experience, and can reduce the amount of time patients spend in hospital. Southend Hospital plans to go live with the system at the end of October.”

During August, 88.7 per cent of patients in the department were seen within the recommended four hours, compared to 91.5 per cent across the rest of 2018. The hospital’s target is 95 per cent.

The September performance report for the hospital also highlighted a shortage in emergency department staff - but the hospital insisted recruitment and retention is a “high priority” and a group of nurses from overseas are set to arrive soon.