Building Scalability into Healthcare Security Systems

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This year’s 70th birthday celebrations have reiterated once again just how much of a national treasure the NHS is and the media has, quite rightly, shone the spotlight on the everyday heroism of NHS staff; from the surgeons doing pioneering work in our operating theatres, to the frontline staff providing vital services every day.

But amongst the celebrations, the media has also highlighted the challenges faced by today’s NHS in an era of increasing demand and limited resources. One of those challenges is safety and security for both staff and patients, with verbal and physical attacks on frontline staff now at an all-time high.

At WLS we understand the difficulties of specifying security systems for healthcare estates. Not only does it often involve complex and varied requirements on a single site, but often those needs change depending on the time of day or day of the week, so flexibility, adaptability and scalability have to be built into the system.

For example, access control systems may need to enable access privileges to different members of staff at different times and new members of the team may need to be added and removed quickly and frequently to accommodate agency staff or visiting professionals. Meanwhile, some roles involve lone worker environments some or all of the time, creating a vulnerability for staff that demands careful consideration in terms of security protocols and infrastructure.

And, of course, with both the terrorist threat and the potential for major incidents representing a serious consideration for NHS Trusts, security systems also need to respond quickly to any requirement to lock down parts of a hospital building or open up access to first responders as they arrive with emergency casualties.

No two healthcare environments are the same and it’s often necessary to integrate new systems with legacy security infrastructure as buildings and services adapt to changing needs. That’s why we work with healthcare providers to understand how their buildings are used and where their operational challenges lie, so that we can respond with practical proposals that will keep staff and patients safer without putting redundant capability into the system.

Much of that design expertise is about programming and integration to ensure that access control is complemented by CCTV surveillance, for example, or combine conventional systems with biometrics where infection control is mission critical.

We are so fortunate that we can rely on the NHS for expertise across all aspects of our health and wellbeing and, at WLS, we’re proud that we can offer a little expertise back.

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Eleanor Cessford