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Game-changing new NHS kit saves up to 8 hours per week

At a special event in December, the NHS North West London Critical Care Network celebrated the successful rollout of its new kit bag for smoothly transferring patients between wards, when patients go for scans and from one hospital to another for clinical need. The Patient Transfer Bag was designed with full input from the doctors and nurses who work on the front lines in critical care and emergency departments across North West London, and it is now in use in every hospital in North West London.

Now that the Patient Transfer Bag is rolled out as standard clinical practice, it is expected to save up to eight hours a week in units – the equivalent of one whole clinician’s shift. The bag was presented to an audience of clinicians, allied health professionals and NHS management by Dr Melissa Dransfield from the North West London Critical Care Network at Accelerating the Pace of Change in Critical Care.

Photo PTB Staff

The modern design allows for easy access to each piece of medical equipment, thanks to:

  • A unique storage layout with clear plastic pockets for each item, allowing quick checks without unpacking the bag
  • Easy and quick access to essential items when you need them for the patient
  • A special side-pouch called the Patient Pocket to allow for additional items unique to each patient to be packed
  • Brightly-coloured internal pouches with bold-print labels so everything can be found quickly in an emergency
  • A super-strength reversible strap, making the bag easy to attach to a bed or trolley while in use.

Doctors, nurses, and other staff involved in patient transfers told the Critical Care Network that whilst historically each provider or hospital has had a system for equipping transfers of its own in place, this has not previously been standardised across regions or networks. This leads to a lack of familiarity when staff move between provider sites, which can slow down critical transfers, cause confusion, and even lead to direct risks to patient safety.

Clinical staff members were asked what equipment they need to provide safe management when carrying out patient transfers, and how often each item was typically used. The bag was then made with this feedback in mind. As part of the roll out, all staff members have also been provided with training in how to check and use the Patient Transfer Bag.

Feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive and in 2017 there is a strong expectation that there will be uptake of the bag beyond London.

Catherine Forsythe, Practice Educator and Nurse at the Royal Marsden Hospital’s Critical Care Unit, said: “Before the Patient Transfer Bag, it took me 20 minutes to make sure that all the right equipment was packed whenever we did our regular checks. With this new design, it takes me well under 10 minutes. ‘The clear plastic design allows us to check the contents without having to unpack and repack the whole bag’. In an emergency situation, that will have a direct impact for clinicians – and, most importantly, for patient safety.

“When you’re working in critical care, you need everyone to work quickly and calmly. One of the simple yet brilliant things you notice when you’re using this bag is how visual it is; all the equipment is set out in the way you would use them.

“The design concept is so logical. You can tell clinicians have had genuine input right from the start.”

Dr Melissa Dransfield, from the Critical Care Network, said: “As a doctor, I move between hospitals every 3-6 months. Before the rollout of the Patient Transfer Bag, there were 16 different bag designs, over 13 different hospitals. They used to be so heavy as well – they were like suitcases. This bag is completely standardised – and the Patient Pocket means that there’s always space for any specific drugs or equipment too. It’s so easy to use, whether you’re transferring a patient to or from A&E, into critical care, or into surgery."