Belfast Health & Social Care Trust

BHSCT is the largest NHS trust in the UK. Its huge estates portfolio comprises 143 buildings, including 6 hospitals and 15 residential care homes.

Within this sizeable collection of properties are 423 separate water systems, each of which is subject to regular testing for the presence of microbes such as legionella and pseudomonas.

Previously, the systems for recording and collecting test data were largely based around spreadsheets, as is still the case with most NHS trusts. While these records were meticulously managed, the sheer volume of test data (1000 results every week) created enormous spreadsheets that were difficult to interrogate for trends that may have identified potential problems.

This flaw in the recording system unfortunately reached a tragic conclusion in 2012, when a pseudomonas outbreak led to three fatalities in one of the Trust’s neonatal units.

A thorough process review followed, and the Trust set about looking for ways to remediate the issues that were identified, including those inherent in analysing large, unwieldy collections of test records stored in manual formats.

Director of Estates, Risk and Environment George McCracken initiated research into whether there were any software systems available to support the type of improvements sought, but without success. Himself a specialist in this area, he recalls: “We carried out an extensive search for a software product to assist with management of our water testing regimes for legionella and pseudomonas, but there was nothing suitable in the market.”

Spidex Software had already been a supplier to BHSCT for a number of years. The Trust’s Estates Department were longtime users of Spidex’s Mainsaver software, in which day-to-day planning, scheduling, recording and analysis of maintenance works around the hospitals and other facilities were carried out.

With its experience in the health sector, working with estates operations and carrying out large-scale data analysis, it was agreed that Spidex be commissioned to create the desired software solution from the ground up. And so DataSabre was born.

The DataSabre product that evolved with BHCST’s input through the development phase became more complete than even the most optimistic proponent might have wished for. As was originally envisioned, DataSabre formalises the asset base and testing points, enables recording of each individual test and result and enables users to identify very quickly areas of actual or potential concern.

Above and beyond its original remit, DataSabre also sends email alerts to relevant personnel regarding out-of-tolerance test results, enables the creation and scheduling of remedial works to the required test points and facilitates post-works analysis to establish that the fix worked. A beginning-to-end record of every test sample from inception to closure.

DataSabre is now in full operation at BHSCT, and George McCracken is happy with the time and investment his department has dedicated to DataSabre’s creation. He comments “Spidex Software has delivered a management, control and reporting application that exactly met our needs in this area.”