Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust today welcomed new national guidance on the use of mobile phones in hospitals, which are in line with the policy that it introduced a year and a half ago.
The Trust eased restrictions in August 2007, for patients, visitors and staff in some parts of North Devon District Hospital. Similar changes were subsequently made at local community hospitals and at Barnstaple Health Centre, which are also run by the Trust.
This means mobiles may be used in non-clinical areas – corridors, stairwells, staff rooms, offices and foyers, plus the internet café area at North Devon District Hospital.
However, phones generally have to be switched off in clinical areas such as wards (including ward corridors), the Out-patient Department, and Accident and Emergency (A&E). This will safeguard sensitive equipment and prevent loud ringtones and conversations causing upset for patients – especially those trying to rest.
Signs have been put up to show areas where phones must be switched off.
The Trust also has a complete ban on the use of cameras for taking pictures anywhere on the hospital sites, to protect the privacy and dignity of other people – especially patients.
Tricia Hawson, the Trust’s Deputy Director of Facilities, said: “We wanted to move with the times. Nearly everyone has a mobile these days, so our main concern is to control their use rather than to ban it. We’ve got to make sure they don’t disturb other patients – especially the very ill – and aren’t used tor taking photos of people without their consent.
“The policy seems to have worked pretty well since it was brought in. People appreciate that we aren’t imposing restrictions for the sake of it, and are very understanding of the need to avoid disturbing patients and visitors.”