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Toshiba TEC in the best of health

Providing acute hospital services for over 300,000 people in Northamptonshire and beyond, Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust uses industry leading mobile printing solutions from Toshiba TEC as part of its pharmacy and dispensary operation.

Mobile printing solution from Toshiba TEC
Mobile printing solution from Toshiba TEC

Kettering General Hospital has served its local community since 1897. It became an NHS Trust in 1994 and a Foundation Trust in November 2008, and its goal is to provide the highest standards of care for all of its patients and to fully support carers and visitors.

Facts and figures

A medium sized facility with 600 inpatient beds and 17 theatres, Kettering General Hospital has invested significantly in its estate and in recent years has opened a £18m Treatment Centre and a £4.7m Cardiac Centre. In 2013 a £30m ward block called the Foundation Wing was developed and provides additional critical care facilities, as well as paediatric inpatient and outpatient accommodation.

More than 3,200 staff work at Kettering General Hospital and its printing and document management infrastructure plays a vital role in the smooth running of all areas of its operation, not least of all in its pharmacy and dispensary. Like other parts of the building, this has also undergone refurbishment and Anthony Bartlett, Medicines Information Pharmacist, needed to ensure that the work his team carries out could continue from a short-term temporary location. At the same time, he needed to ensure that when it moved back into the new location, technology would be in place to help meet the recommendations outlined in the report conducted by Lord Carter into how hospitals can save money and improve care.

‘Lord Carter recommends that NHS trusts use at least 80 per cent of their pharmacist resource for direct medicines optimisation activities, medicines governance and safety remits,’ Bartlett explains. ‘By April 2017, each NHS Trust should have undertaken a Hospital Pharmacy Transformation Programme (HPTP) to develop plans to increase pharmacist prescribers, electronic prescribing and administration, accurate cost coding of medicines, and consolidate stock holding by April 2020. Pharmacists all over the country are currently looking at how they can improve that communication gap and information flow around patients, but it is already clear that the only way to do that is by using modern IT solutions.’

A perfect prescription

The printers have reduced waiting times for patients, improved accuracy and speeded up the discharge process
The printers have reduced waiting times for patients, improved accuracy and speeded up the discharge process

One way to comply with the Carter Directive was to implement ward based dispensing of medicines to facilitate the fast discharge of patients. Anthony Bartlett and the Pharmacy team were able to achieve this by using Toshiba EP4 Bluetooth Mobile Printers on the wards of Kettering Hospital.

Bartlett first heard about this solution by reading a case study on how Toshiba helped Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust implement the same solution.

Bartlett states, ‘It was clear that both hospitals shared many of the same concerns, so I decided to contact Toshiba TEC to see what it could recommend for us. Traditionally, labelling can be a laborious and time-consuming process, which relies on pieces of paper and documentation being transferred from one location to another, with staff having to constantly go backwards and forwards. We needed to change that.’

Perceived Benefits

  • Patients can be discharged faster
  • Pressure taken off dispensary
  • Repatriation risk reduced of getting the correct medicines back to the right patient
  • Patient experience improved
  • Patients own medication can be relabelled no need to dispense from the hospital stock
  • Patients medication can be relabelled on the ward if the dose changes
  • Helps with compliance of Carter Report

Toshiba TEC understands the pressure healthcare organisations are under to manage costs and improve efficiencies, with customer care as the primary objective. Designed for easy integration into existing systems, the company’s range of state-of-the-art technology is already widely used in a diverse range of applications throughout the healthcare sector, with proven operational benefits that meet many of the objectives highlighted by Lord Carter’s report, including putting more emphasis on frontline patient facing activities.

Moving on up

The Toshiba EP4 Bluetooth Mobile Printer was chosen as appropriate solution for printing TTA labels for ward dispensing.

Commenting on the suitability of this device for Kettering General Hospital, Becky Viccars, Marketing Manager at Toshiba TEC, says, ‘The compact and stylish four-inch Toshiba EP4 is perfect for a use as part of a mobile pharmacy, as it provides unrivalled wireless functionality and reliability on the move. It quickly produces high quality, accurate labels, with the flexibility of many different label sizes and means that the patient experience is vastly improved.’

The Toshiba EP4 utilises high endurance lithium-ion battery technology to ensure many hours of operation. Viccars adds, ‘With a clear backlit LCD screen, the devices are Wi-Fi enabled and come with USB 2.0 supplied as standard. Ruggedness is vital for portable handheld products used in hospitals and the in-built rubber corners can easily withstand being dropped from heights up to 1.5m. Battery charging is also quick and easy and its large capacity means changing media less frequently and with no cores required on the rolls, there is minimal waste.’

In the flow

It is estimated that 75 per cent of UK NHS Trusts use the EMIS Ascribe software that is also utilised at Kettering General Hospital. By working closely with Toshiba TEC’s technical team, integration between the software and the Toshiba EP4 devices has been seamless; enhancing ward based clinical services such as medicines management and electronic prescribing and medicine administration.

The effect has been quite dramatic in terms of productivity and less time is spent labelling each product, with an improved end result. As well as allowing staff to spend their time more effectively, the Toshiba EP4s also have benefits for patients by improving access to their medicines, allowing them to get immediate answers to questions they might have, shortening waiting times, as well as facilitating a quicker discharge process.

Last word

For the Pharmacy at Kettering Hospital, the impact of the small but highly effective Toshiba EP4s has been highly impressive and he concludes, ‘Adopting Toshiba TEC’s state-of-the-art mobile printing technology has exceeded all expectations and it is helping us to work faster and smarter. Not only that, we are very much in line with Lord Carter’s recommendations and are well underway with our HPTP. The excellent support and back-up we’ve received has made the process incredibly smooth and I would highly recommend Toshiba TEC’s products and services to any other NHS Trust hospitals that are looking to embark on a similar programme of improvement.’

Further information is available from Becky Viccars at Toshiba TEC by calling 0843 2244 944, emailing or by vising the website on

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