‘BYOD the only sustainable way forward’ says Liverpool NHS IT chief

By Peter Gothard
17 May 2012 View Comments
surgeons at an operating table

A Liverpool NHS trust is pushing ahead with a bring your own device (BYOD) strategy in a bid to cut costs, despite its IT chief conceding that the policy may well result in job losses in his department.

James Norman, IT director, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, told Computing this week that the policy is necessary to meet his cost reduction targets.

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"It's the only sustainable way forward," said Norman. "We're reducing budget allocations each year and have some very challenging times ahead of us. We've been asked to make additional [savings in line with the] CIP [Cost Improvement Programme] next year, and we're aware that's going to get tighter the year after."

He continued: "The NHS is not immune to [cuts] – don't believe everything you read. We're having to make some very severe financial savings, and essentially that means we can't afford to continue to provide new equipment all the time.

"We've got to be very targeted about who gets the IT equipment, and how we work with staff to enable them to use their own equipment."

As well as cutting costs on hardware, Norman also suggested that a successful BYOD policy could result in reducing IT staff.

"There are efficiencies across the board, but you're always going to need a core cohort of staff for things like printers," he said. "We'll still need desktops and units around the trust, and touchscreen devices for theatres and such, so you're not going to make big savings in those areas."

The efficacy of BYOD remains a source of industry contention, however. At Infosec's Europe 2012 conference in London last week, Blackpool council head of ICT services Tony Doyle described BYOD as an "extra burden" on IT helpdesks, and cited the extra cost of software to manage devices and possible Information Commission fines as central reasons to remain wary of BYOD.

Norman added that he is looking at ways to incentivise staff to bring their own devices to work.

"The big challenge with BYOD is around HR and governance," he said. "How do you recompense staff as well as support them? Yes, it's their kit, but we made a saving by not having to provide it, so we should be providing an incentive to staff with that."

The Trust has this week also rolled out a comprehensive paperless patient data scheme that utilises EMC's Documentum xCP for medical records, digital dictation, voice recognition and Symantec data loss prevention and mobile device management.

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