Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust to reduce noise in postnatal ward

Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust to reduce noise in postnatal ward


Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT) has initiated a "Silent Hospital Pilot Project", seeking to reduce levels of noise on a postnatal ward. This innovative project, which is aligned to RCHT's new Woman and Children's Hospital that will be built within the next 4 to 5 years, employs technology to silence patient call bells, driving audible alerts to staff mobile phones instead.

The primary goal of the pilot is to measure both the quantitative and qualitative benefits of this change. RCHT aims to gauge the actual reduction of noise and assess improvements in staff and patient wellbeing, speedier recoveries, and enhanced communication. Data will be collected from the nurse call system to monitor response times and the consistent operation of the software.

Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust to reduce noise in postnatal ward

Early feedback from staff

In a recent podcast interview, Roberta Fuller, Programme Director for the new Women and Children’s Hospital at RCHT, shared some promising feedback from the staff involved in the pilot.

“The staff are well-trained in using the app, and they appreciate the mobile technology. They find they can respond to calls more swiftly since they know exactly where the calls are coming from. Previously, all calls would sound simultaneously. Now, the call comes quietly to their phone, accompanied by a small noise and a vibration. The responsible nurse can see the call and respond directly. If they are unable to attend to the patient immediately, the call cycles to the next available nurse. This system ensures that only the staff that are looking after the patients on the ward at that time “hear” the call bells, significantly reducing overall noise levels on the ward.”

Positive impact on patients

Initial patient survey responses have also highlighted the positive impact on babies and families. “We’ve been trialling questionnaires with patients to evaluate not just whether the ward is quieter, but also their feelings about the new system. Some mothers who have previously given birth at RCHT noted a remarkable difference; their babies are not crying as much as before because they are not being disturbed by alarm bells. They’ve observed their babies are sleeping more, allowing them to rest more as well.”

“Maybe we will be able to discharge people earlier as a result, because they can rest and recover far better.” 

This early feedback is incredibly heartening and underscores the transformative potential of the project. Within just two weeks of silencing the call bells, we’ve seen impressive improvements.

The Silent Hospital Pilot Project is poised to offer substantial benefits, fostering a quieter and more serene environment conducive to recovery and wellbeing. The positive early feedback from both staff and patients suggests a promising future for the initiative, potentially serving as a model for other wards and hospitals aiming to enhance patient care through technological innovation.

Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust to reduce noise in postnatal ward

About The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust

Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT) was founded in 1992 as part of the second wave of NHS Trusts to be established in England. They have three main hospital sites: Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro; St Michael’s Hospital, Hayle; and West Cornwall Hospital, Penzance.

RCHT also provides imaging and outpatient services at a number of locations across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, as well as birthing centres in St Austell, Helston and on the Isles of Scilly.

RCHT serve around 474,000 residents across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, with the remainder of Cornwall’s population in the east and far north of the county looking to Plymouth and North Devon respectively, for their acute hospital services.

As a year round tourist destination, the number of people they care for is boosted by holidaymakers, which can more than double our population at the busiest times.

Around 6,700 people work together across the hospitals and services, including 400 volunteers and an in-house bank of over 1500 people working flexibly to help respond to changes in demand.

The Trust has teaching hospitals status as part of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry (PCMD) and University of Exeter Medical School. Keeping at the forefront of medical advances, the Trust is continually developing its clinical services and is committed to maximising the range of specialist care that can be offered locally. Allied to this is a growing reputation for research and innovation.

New children and women's hospital

Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust to reduce noise in postnatal ward
Artist’s impression of the new Women and Children’s Hospital project

A new Women and Children’s Hospital is to be built at the heart of the Royal Cornwall Hospital site in Truro to replace the existing Princess Alexandra Wing. The new hospital, which will also provide the site’s new Main Entrance, will bring together all women and children’s services into one building. Services will include Maternity, Neonatal and Paediatric care; Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Key features of the new building will be a consultant-led birthing suite; a midwife-led birthing suite; a neonatal intensive care unit with transitional care facilities; and a day assessment unit for maternity patients.

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