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Althea proud to sponsor UHL Caring at its Best Awards

The University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust ‘Caring at its Best Awards’ took place on the evening of 29th September 2016 at The Athena, attended by almost 500 staff, volunteers and supporters including Althea’s Senior Commercial Manager & Associate Director – Managed Services, David Brand and Leicester General Manager, Robert Mason.

The awards recognise and reward Trust staff who are inspirational and committed to colleagues and their patients. The event included awards for: ‘We treat people how we would like to be treated’, ‘We do what we say we are going to do’, ‘We focus on what matters most’ and ‘Caring at its best’ which was a publicly nominated category. The ceremony saw an overall winner selected by their external judges from the finalists of the quarterly heats from throughout the year.

The team from Ward 41, Haematology, at the Royal Infirmary, were selected as winners of ‘We are one team and we are best when we work together’ category, proudly sponsored and presented by our staff representatives.

A huge well done to all of the winners!

New pharmacy robot at UHL

Althea is pleased to announce it has installed a state-of-the-art ARX UK Vmax robotic pharmacy at Leicester Royal Infirmary. The Vmax has been provided through the University of Leicester Hospitals NHS Trust’s 18-year managed service contract, which supports the Trusts’ clinical teams in Radiology, Cardiology and Pharmacy.

The new robotic pharmacy installation means that the Trust will benefit from technology enhancements including a user-friendly touchscreen and barcode system which will ensure instant access to stock levels, space availability and expiring stock information for the most accurate stock management. The pharmacy has the ability to collect eight packets at once – a substantial increase over the old robot. The self-cleaning equipment is also quieter and is 50% more space efficient at storing packets, opening up further storage space for the Trust.

Paul Couchman, Pharmacy Service Manager at Leicester’s Hospitals, commented, “The ability to update and refresh our automated dispensing system through the Althea contract has enabled us to install and utilise the latest technology in order to continue to meet the dispensing demands of the hospital. The solution delivered has made best use of available space within the department whilst giving increased performance and improved medicines storage. The re-location of the automated dispensing cabinets has also improved both the dispensing workflow and quality of the dispensary environment”.

Royal Berkshire signs multi-year maintenance contract with Althea

Althea is pleased to announce the expansion of its managed maintenance portfolio with a new service with The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust.  The five-year contract went live in March 2016 and has an optional one-plus-one year extension.  The contract covers the high-quality maintenance of diagnostic imaging equipment across the Royal Berkshire Hospital and some of its satellite sites including, but not limited to: three MR scanners, four CT scanners, sixty five ultrasounds and two gamma cameras.

Although the service commenced in March, Althea has delivered an interim service since the beginning of January to assist the Trust as they transitioned from their previous multi-vendor provider.

Procured through a rigorous competitive procurement, Althea provides the Trust with the most economically advantageous service – providing equipment uptimes in excess of 99% as well as a single point-of-contact Service Centre which allows Trust staff to maintain their focus on patient care and optimising patient outcomes.  The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust is a large general hospital serving a core population of 500,000 and a wider population of one million for specialist and hyper acute services. The Trust has a vision to provide sustainable, high-quality care for the local community; a vision which Althea is proud to support from its new headquarters and Centre Of Excellence in Theale, Berkshire.

Althea’s Business Development Director, Jason Long, commented, “It’s great to have a partnership with our local NHS Trust who deliver healthcare to the majority of our own employees and families.  We are building a strong relationship in order to support both the Trust’s vision and their diagnostic imaging strategies over the next five to seven years”.

Higèa announces the acquisition of 80% of Biomedicale S.r.l.

Higèa S.p.A., a company controlled by Althea (formerly Pantheon Healthcare Group), has finalised the acquisition of the 80% of Biomedicale S.r.l., a company owned by Zephyro S.p.A., an Italian company listed at AIM market of “Borsa Italiana” and operating in the healthcare and facility management industries.

With this important operation, Higèa S.p.A., that counts more than 400 employees, a turnover of approx. 100 Millions of Euro and a portfolio with more than 100 Italian and European health facilities, consolidates its leadership in the healthcare engineering services.

This acquisition has a key role in the development process of Althea (formerly Pantheon Healthcare Group), which includes, besides Higèa, other companies such as Asteral, MESA, Ed Sloan & Associates, Sigil, Spintech and MVS.

The Group, founded in August 2014, is at its thirteenth acquisition conducted in several countries, with a focus in European market.

Alessandro Dogliani, Group CEO declares, “An operation in line with the strategies for the growth of Higèa and Althea that will allow us to strengthen our biomedical integrated services, and, thanks to our know-how, to develop the management processes, improving the results”.

This operation, performed a few weeks after the acquisition of Iteon Tecnologie S.r.l. biomedical division, was achieved with the support of Ernst & Young, Giliberti Pappalettera e Triscornia and Maisto e Associati.

HFMA Provider Conference 2016

Althea enjoyed another successful show at the Healthcare Finance Management Association (HFMA) Annual Provider Conference, which took place at the Chesford Grange Hotel, Warwickshire on 7th and 8th July 2016 and had a theme of ‘Creating Synergy’.

Althea recognises the importance of creating synergy within the NHS in order to support the radical changes it is facing as part of delivering the 5 year forward view, where it states that “Trusts will need to procure capital assets more efficiently, consider alternative methods of securing assets such as managed equipment services”. Asteral Select offers a bespoke, vendor-independent managed service with flexible arrangements to meet specific needs. Our service is proven to deliver measurable cost and efficiency savings.

Finance Directors and finance departments have a key role to play in this future, the conference hosted speakers who explained the models, shared the progress to date and featured real life case studies from those increasing effectiveness of healthcare for their populations. The exhibition allowed Asteral to interact with the delegates and showcase the beneficial features of Asteral Select.

The event saw around 35 exhibitors showcasing a range of different products and services to the 140 delegates who attended the two-day event.

The NHS England 5 Year Forward View can be found at here.

UKRC 2016

From 6th – 8th June, hundreds of the delegates attending UKRC at Liverpool’s ACC visited Stand 61 to enjoy a coffee and talk to our sales team about our managed equipment and maintenance services. The show attracted 2,044 attendees, 77 exhibitors and 180 speakers, more attendees than ever and with our stand in a prime location in the exhibition hall, the stand was constantly filled with delegates showing interest.

Our sales team were on hand to discuss how Althea can benefit NHS Trusts, at a time when cost-savings are being relied on more than ever before.

The three-day annual event is aimed at all those involved in the field of radiological science. This was the first year it was also combined with UK Radiation Oncology (UKRO) which attracts over 300 delegates working within radiation oncology.

Jason Long, Althea’s Business Development Director, was excited to meet new people within the Radiology community and showcase Althea’s services. Jason commented, “Most of us working at Althea have first-hand experience of working in Radiology and understand their requirements which is why we provide both financial savings and efficiency improvements. It is always great to exhibit at UKRC, an event not to be missed in the Radiology calendar, to share with delegates how we can help NHS Trusts deliver improved quality clinical services for less money.”

If you missed us at UKRC and would like to discuss how our services could help your organisation, please call us on 0118 900 8100.

New ultrasounds installed at UHL

Since December 2014, Althea has successfully installed 23 new ultrasound systems at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL).  These installations have been for a range of departments including Echocardiology, Antenatal, Vascular and General Medicine across the Trust’s three main sites – Leicester General Hospital, Royal Infirmary, and Glenfield Hospital.

Throughout the vendor-neutral selection process Althea has organised a number of demonstrations from across the supplier base.  The Trust was able to evaluate the range of equipment available and with the impartial advice of Althea’s modality experts selected the right equipment to optimise clinical outcomes and meet patient needs.  Through their managed service contract UHL has installed a mix of ultrasounds from across the supplier base including GE, Philips and Hitachi.

New managed service contract with Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Althea is pleased to announce a partnership with Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in which it will provide diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy equipment.

The 10-year managed service contract, which has an optional 10-year extension, will include the robust management and high-quality maintenance of four linear accelerators and more than 160 Radiology assets through the single point-of-contact Service Centre, the provision of a clinical consumables management service, and a significant asset replacement programme which will see 18 new systems delivered by the end of the year.

Two fully-equipped mammography trailers have already been delivered to the Royal Derby Hospital, and several other state-of-the art clinical systems will be handed over before the end of the year. These include eight ultrasounds, a linear accelerator and associated oncology management and treatment planning systems, six x-ray systems and a gamma camera. All have been selected on a vendor-independent basis.

Derby Teaching Hospitals works to an ethos of ‘Taking Pride in Caring’, and aims to be a beacon for all that is best in 21st century healthcare. Althea firmly believes this contract supports that vision.

Kevin Downs, Director of Finance and Performance for the Trust, said, “We are delighted that the managed equipment service has now gone live and that staff and patients are benefitting from the investment in new technology – an investment made possible due to the financial savings achieved through a long-term partnership with the UK’s leading vendor-independent MES provider.”

Jason Long, Althea’s Business Development Director, commented, “We are delighted to have Derby as our latest managed equipment service customer. We share the Trust’s vision of taking pride in the service we deliver and epitomising quality.  Our service is an industry-leading solution that will support Derby deliver a safe, high-performing and efficient patient service.”

New mobile breast units improve services for Derbyshire women

Two new mobile breast units are to go out on the screening rounds in Derbyshire this autumn.

The brand new vans – one with a pink interior and one with blue – replace the ones which have been in operation for the last 15 years and are the first major piece of equipment replaced by the Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust through a managed equipment service provided by Althea. A new MRI scanner for Derby patients is expected in the New Year.

They carry state-of-the-art digital machines, which work more quickly and provide a higher-resolution image for analysis.

Superintendent Radiographer Jean Bonsall said: “The digital image will be produced straight away, which will make things easier for the radiographers, and better for the patient, as they won’t have to wait around. The technology means the radiographer can focus her attention on the patient, rather than the machine.”

The improved imaging will be particularly useful for younger patients, she added, as it will be able to detect smaller anomalies in scans.

The pink van was delivered this week. It will head out on the road next Wednesday, with the first stop in Swadlincote.

Its blue counterpart will be added to the round next month.

Each unit sees around 50 women a day – adding up to 250 women each week. Women aged between 50 and 70 are invited for screening every three years. If there are concerns over the scan results, they are called into the breast unit for further tests.

Women over the age of 70 can still be screened, but they have to request an appointment.

Pictured left to right: Jean Bonsall, Superintendent Radiographer; Dr Mark Bagnall, Consultant Radiologist; Lee Chlechowicz, Clinical Manager for Imaging; and Sue James, Chief Executive for Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Whittington’s managed service 10-year anniversary

Althea is pleased to announce that December 2015 marked the 10th anniversary of our long-term partnership with Whittington Health NHS Trust. Althea currently manages and maintains 66 Trust assets including 2 CT scanners, 1 MR scanner, 20 x-ray systems, 2 mammography units and 16 ultrasounds.

Over 10 years Althea has replaced all major items of diagnostic imaging at least once, including the installation of a new Philips Ingenia 1.5T Omega HP MRI Scanner, which weighed six tonnes and required heavy duty lifting and positioning via a third floor window.  The installation came 28 weeks after the Trust’s decision to procure the MRI as a variation to the existing managed service contract, and 14 weeks after planning permission was received.  This demonstrates the flexibility of our services and shows how we bring together the required expertise and project management skills to deliver complex projects within challenging timeframes.

Adrian Trinidade, MRI Superintendent at The Whittington Hospital, commented “The ability to adapt the service to our individual requirements throughout the length of a long-term contract is a great benefit and extremely reassuring, allowing the Trust to have increased flexibility with its equipment selection and, in turn, offer its patients access to the latest in diagnostic imaging equipment technologies.”

Whittington Health NHS Trust selected Althea as its partner because of our vendor-independence and flexibility to meet the changing demands of the health economy.  The manage service integrates seamlessly with the Trust’s existing PFI contract, provides full financing for all equipment, and reduces the Trust’s costs and financial risk.  The managed service takes responsibility for the strategic management of medical equipment, allowing the hospital management team to maintain their focus on patient care.

Whittington Health NHS Trust is located in North London and cares for a population of 500,000 with a priority of providing the right care at the right time for patients to ensure the community they serve live healthier lives.

 

ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE

Adoption of modern clinical procedures at the Trust was restricted due to older technology and many pieces of equipment were getting close to their recommended replacement age. The hospital needed to update its imaging facilities but lacked the capital needed to buy new equipment.

“We initially dipped our toe into the leasing pond but found that upon renegotiation, we couldn’t afford to update the equipment due to other financial pressures. Without modern equipment, we were unable to offer patients low radiation dose techniques or alternatives to invasive procedures,” said Dr. David Grant, Clinical Director of Diagnostics and Therapies and Consultant Radiologist at The Whittington Health NHS Trust.

Initiating change

Remedial work designed to combat the situation started in 2000, with a PFI project to construct a new clinical block and main entrance. With infrastructure improvements underway, the Trust then focused its attention on equipping the new facilities. To provide a high standard of care and compete in an increasingly commercial NHS environment, advanced modern diagnostic equipment was required.

Whittington’s management team were looking for a solution which:

  • Provided access to a broad spectrum of technical expertise and advice
  • Would integrate with the existing PFI contract and manage the building interface
  • Provided technology refresh over the contract lifetime
  • Provided full financing for all equipment
  • Reduced both the Trust’s fixed costs and the long term financial risk

In October 2005 The Trust awarded a fifteen-year contract to Althea. This agreement ensured that the days of outdated technology would be a thing of the past. The hospital would benefit from and sustain the benefits of being one of Britain’s most technologically advanced imaging departments.

Clinical and financial benefits

Whittington chose Althea because it ensures that all elements of equipment provision and management are outsourced to a specialist third party. It also guarantees that state-of-the-art equipment will be maintained throughout the lifetime of the contract. This enables the hospital management team to focus solely on patient care and passes responsibility for the strategic management of equipment lifecycles to Althea.

Althea worked with the Trust from day one to evaluate the Radiography needs of the hospital, and develop a sustainable long-term equipment replacement programme. Plans for ongoing user training and a fully-managed maintenance service were also jointly developing. For a fixed monthly payment, Althea provides the Trust with a planned long-term investment strategy delivering the latest technology, coupled with the highest standards of service, maintenance and training.

“A secure investment plan, an integral part of a long-term contract, represented a realistic opportunity in the present financial environment to ensure that state-of-the-art equipment is continually updated and refreshed,” said Dr. Grant. “This approach ensures that access to modern and well-maintained equipment is kept constant and that nothing passes its agreed replacement age. This is a huge advantage in maintaining the standard of clinical care.”

Investing in modern equipment

The first part of the scheme saw the purchase of a number of mobile ultrasound and x-ray machines. These were installed ahead of the planned service commencement to assist the Trust with the replacement of the most urgently needed and older equipment. Althea then refurbished an old general emergency department x-ray room, replacing the aged equipment with a state of the art, fully digital, twin plate x-ray system and digital dental panoramic x-ray machine. This was installed in advance and provided valuable benefits in assisting the training of Radiology staff in the use of the new digital technology.

Althea took responsibility for all design and building interface matters reviewing all room drawings provided by the PFI contractor to ensure that the room design was suitable for the installation of the new equipment. Althea carried out all room fit out works associated with the fixed equipment.

“The previous MRI scanner was in its eleventh year, so it is great to have a new device. It will enable us to offer patients a greater range and quality of examinations such as MRCPs and vascular imaging obviating the need for invasive diagnostic studies,” stated Dr. Grant

He continued, “We are all delighted with the new department. Working in such a modern and spacious environment with state-of-the-art equipment enables us to offer the best possible service to our patients. We are now concentrating on developing new services and further improving both access times and the communication of results.

“Initial feedback from patients is also positive, they like the new and clean facility. Furthermore, the dedicated waiting areas inside the Imaging Department have improved patient dignity – no more waiting in corridors in gowns.”

The introduction of new equipment has also encouraged the adoption of innovative new processes. For example, the imaging department has introduced a unique patient waiting bleep system. Upon booking into the department each patient is given a bleeper to call them back when their examination slot is available. This reduces the number of people waiting in the department and helps to eliminate patient anxiety by giving them freedom to visit the shops and cafés inside the hospital building without the risk of missing their appointment.

Ongoing excellence

With all equipment now operational and providing patients with the quality of services they deserve, Althea has shifted its focus to providing service excellence for the long-term. On the ground, our specialist team ensure ongoing maintenance and training programmes are closely managed, minimising equipment downtime and promoting the use of new digital technologies to maximum effect.

“The structured approach to ongoing maintenance and fault handling is already improving the quality of the services we deliver. Room downtimes are markedly reduced” says Dr. David Grant. “Althea takes the equipment headache away making the operational part of the job much easier. Because of the contractual implications, Althea ensures that OEM engineer fault responses are much quicker.”

With this contract in place, The Whittington Hospital is able to concentrate on introducing further reforms to improving patient care, safe in the knowledge that the equipment is in the hands of an experienced and reliable partner.