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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Thank You - OUH IM&T Service

Six people spaced apart in a garden, old Manor House behind

A major part of the NHS response to the COVID-19 pandemic - and of the global response - has been a huge leap forward in the use of technology. At the Trust, all this falls under the remit of the OUH Information Management and Technology (IM&T) Service.

Over the past few months, this team has worked flat out to supply the equipment and 'back end' systems that allow as many of our staff as possible to work from home. Home working brings particular challenges for the NHS, but work carried out by this team now allows safe access to medical records, X-rays and other secure hospital systems from home for staff who need it.

The IM&T Service team has, like many others, changed its own working practices to enable staff to work from home, but they have to retain a presence on our sites to ensure front line services get critical IT support when they need it.

Further changes have been made to the Trust's network and IT systems to support our COVID-19 response. It's all been a large team effort, and all our specialists have been involved, from the IT Service Desk and the IT Support, Server and Network Teams through to our Application Support Team, trainers, development and corporate support teams, making sure their staff are working safely both on and off site.

The OUH Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) Team - the team responsible for scanning and ultrasound technology, has been busy installing specialist work stations so that Radiologists can study X-rays and scans from home. The team has also helped set up the IT systems for new clinical areas which have opened to support our services - some provided by our healthcare partners with buildings close to our hospital sites.

The IM&T Service team has been heavily involved in changes to inpatient wards and clinical areas, providing equipment, and changing IT systems to facilitate the isolation of patients with COVID-19 and protect health workers and other patients. This has allowed vital services to continue.

This is the team that has been responsible for providing the tablet computers to patients on our wards, so they can talk to loved ones who have not been permitted to visit.

They have been supporting our Psychological Medicine team, amongst others, with video patient consultations through Attend Anywhere, an NHS-approved video appointment service.

Before the pandemic, Microsoft Teams was not used in the Trust – we are now seeing it used by over 5000 of our staff, with hundreds of meetings daily preventing the need for travel to our sites and face to face contact. In April, the Trust Board was able to talk to a thousand members of staff in a virtual staff briefing.

These solutions will not be temporary, and as the Trust looks to restore services, we will be increasing our use of technology to enable our services and staff to work more efficiently.

All of these changes have come with a big rise in calls from staff needing IT support. Calls to the IM&T Service Desk increased by 46.8 percent in March 2020, compared to the previous year. Service Desk and IT Support have been working extremely hard over the last few months to log and resolve this continually high number of calls.

Lee Massie, Acting Head of IM&T Service Delivery, says:

"Supporting the front line during this crisis has been very challenging, but the satisfaction from knowing we are supporting clinical colleagues and helping patients has been immensely rewarding."

David Walliker, OUH Chief Digital and Partnership Officer, says:

"IM&T is an essential part of any organisation, but in our Trust it is also an essential part of patient care. Without our IM&T Services we could not run our hospitals or treat our patients effectively or safely, and the extra workload on the staff has been huge in recent weeks.

"The teams have risen to this challenge in an extraordinary way, and we really must thank them for that, because it has been a game-changer; and I’m very proud of what they have achieved."

Katie Kapernaros, OUH Non-executive Director, says:

"IT systems have always been an important tool, supporting the Trust work to provide excellence in patient care. When IT works well, the IT support team are invisible to most Trust staff, but in times of crisis, it is obvious how hard this team works and over the last few weeks they have moved the narrative forward in leaps and bounds.

"There are new ways of working now that will form a new business-as-usual environment, that might have taken years to implement in normal circumstances. The team have been bold, agile and committed and I am very appreciative of the wonderful work they have done."

IM&T Service, we couldn’t manage without you. Thank you so much for all you do.