a person in a white corridor opening a locked cupboard with a set of silver keys

Saving time in hospitals benefits both patients and staff. We’re funding a trial of digital keys for medicine cupboards so staff can access medicines more easily as and when they need them.

The problem

The NHS is facing growing pressure around waiting times. This project aims to increase the time available for staff to care for patients. 

Within each of our clinical areas in Moorfields, one set of traditional keys is used to access medication cupboards. Understandably, these are held by one of the registered nurses in the department. However, when another member of clinical staff needs to access the medication cupboards they can spend a significant amount of time locating the holder of the keys. This is an inefficient use of the everyone’s time, not least our valuable clinical workforce. 

Sarah Needham is the deputy director of nursing at Moorfields. She and her team agree that staff time could be more effectively utilised if digital keys were implemented for staff to use during a shift. This would release time to care for patients, enable medication to be dispensed more efficiently and provides an electronic register of who, when and where medication cupboards have been accessed. 

Funding a solution

Along with her team and the support of an innovation grant, Sarah run a pilot project in two very different clinical areas – the busy A&E and in one of the surgical wards at our main London site. 

The aim is to evaluate whether this is an initiative which should be rolled out across the entire Trust and also a standard approach in our new hospital. 

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of this initiative, a time study will take place before and after installation, to assess the benefits for staff and patient care. A survey will then be used to evaluate this pilot, seeking feedback from both patients and staff.

Outcome and impact

This pilot presents a variety of potential benefits across service improvement, financial efficiencies and improved patient care. For example, management of medicines could be safer and more efficient as it would help with control of drug stocks and audit trails of personal access. 

As we look to support Moorfields staff in the delivery of outstanding and safe patient care, this digital approach could see nurses saving up to 40 minutes per shift in wasted time looking for keys, patients getting their medication on time and ultimately giving more time for each nurse to provide the wonderful patient care Moorfields is known for.

Project Details

Funding scheme

Innovation grant

Grant holder

Mrs Sarah Needham

Research area(s)

Patient experience | Service improvement | Clinical audit

Start date

January 2020

Amount awarded

£22,232

Grant reference

GR001132