Storage and the NHS: how saving space helps save lives
One of our most frequent and favourite clients is the NHS - or more accurately, its many surgeries, medical centres, hospitals and other supporting facilities. We don’t just enjoy these projects because of the interesting and varied environments, or the lovely people involved in making the NHS the national treasure it is. More than anything, we enjoy these projects because we know the impact they can have, both for staff and patients.
Medical facilities have wide-ranging storage requirements, with all manner of equipment, consumables and documents to keep organised and tidied away. With the pressure to save money and become more efficient, however, high density storage has never been more important. While our work is only a drop in the ocean in terms of what the NHS does, we nevertheless take pride in contributing to this incredible organisation.
Past and present
It’s tempting to assume that the NHS is entirely digital at this point, and that the traditional pen, paper and printer have been consigned to the scrapheap. While this is true in some practices, it’s easy to forget just how enormous the NHS is as an organisation, and how many different kinds of practice it encompasses. While many records have now been digitised, there is still an enormous quantity of physical records that need to be stored somewhere.
For some practices, the cost of digitisation is seen as prohibitive; others fear the effect that shipping out patient records could have on their ability to serve patients. The quality of digitisation can also vary, while some practitioners may simply prefer to have conventional paper records to-hand. And of course, cybersecurity is at the forefront of conversations around the NHS and the UK at large. One of the great modern advantages of old-fashioned paper is that it can’t be accessed online, keeping patient confidentiality intact.
One of the most common requests we fulfil for GPs practices is for Lloyd George Patient Note Storage. Named after former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Lloyd George envelopes were first used in 1911, when the politician David Lloyd George introduced a national health insurance scheme for low-paid working men, these distinctive files contain a patient’s entire medical history. While they are only accessed sporadically, surgeries require that they are always on hand for reference, and they must be sent between surgeries whenever an individual moves and changes surgery. With a folder for every patient, more and more notes tend to accumulate every year, leading to them being stored in different rooms and creating confusion for doctors and administrators.
This is a perfect example of how our mobile shelving can help an organisation. Adapting to the needs of a practice and the space they have available, we can install mobile shelving without disrupting patients, receptionists or other staff. By using a system of floor-mounted track & rollers, mobile shelves can be pushed together and wheeled apart in a concertina-like fashion, creating a single aisle between several rows of shelves. Utilising wasted aisle space for condensing & creating additional storage space, this system can save as much as 70% of the space required in a traditional, static layout, without sacrificing on ease of access.
Surgeries appreciate this system for a number of reasons. Not only does it create more space - freeing it up for other services within the practice - it also adds an additional layer of security. For some practices, the need for easy access means that shelves or cabinets for Lloyd George patient notes are open-fronted, and even available in patient-facing areas. Mobile shelving on the other hand can be locked together, keeping patient notes secure even in public spaces.
Fast and flexible
Mobile shelving has all sorts of uses and isn’t just applied to Lloyd George patient notes within the NHS. All sorts of items which require secure, convenient and efficient storage can be catered to by these systems, which can be fitted in almost any environment, and with accessories to support the storage of different sized and shaped objects. However, Invicta doesn’t just provide mobile shelving, and the NHS sometimes requires very different solutions.
You may not see it but racking and mezzanines are just as important to the smooth operation of the health service as the more forward-facing aspects of storage. With an increasing number of NHS services being outsourced, the transport, storage and receipt of items between external providers and NHS facilities is an important element of today’s health service. To keep things running smoothly, efficient warehouses and other spaces are essential.
Our high-density racking can be utilised to store all sorts of items used by the NHS and its providers. FIFO racking allows for medicines and other consumables to be distributed and moved to local stockrooms according to their use-by dates, preventing unnecessary wastage. Pallet racking meanwhile allows for the effective storage of palletised goods and machinery - particularly crucial as the NHS looks to stockpile ahead of Brexit uncertainties.
Making a difference
While efficiency savings may not make for the most exciting headlines, they are critical to the functionality of the NHS. Every additional room we can provide by compacting patient notes storage is another room for a GP; every extra pallet we can fit in a warehouse is one less trip a truck has to make to restock; every minute saved on accessing archives is a minute that can be spent helping patients. While the savings may seem miniscule, they all add up, and all contribute extra money, time and energy to saving people’s lives.
It’s this reason above all that we’re proud of what we contribute with our NHS projects, as well as those for the private medical sector and other institutions. Whether it’s a university, museum or charity, our work reflects our ethos: that a job well done reaps its own rewards. Sometimes, we’re lucky enough that it does more than make our clients happy: it makes their clients happy too.