On message: how an NHS trust is communicating across multiple sites

Communicating clearly with a dispersed workforce

March 31, 2014

It’s a challenge that has faced many seasoned internal comms professionals – how do you cascade important information to a workforce dispersed across several sites?

Timing and frequency – particularly with today’s technology increasing employee expectations – can make this a real head-scratcher, especially when important information needs to be delivered to employees at the same time.

With almost 4,000 staff working across two primary sites, it is an issue facing the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – the organisation that provides acute health services to patients in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire.

The organisation, which was established as an NHS foundation trust in 2004 and is responsible for Peterborough City Hospital and Stamford & Rutland Hospital, understands the essential nature of clear communication.

And, with the trust targeting to make a staggering £64 million in “cumulative efficiency savings” by 2016-17, the need for employees to be continually updated has never been so important.

Cara Barrett, who works as a communications officer at the trust, said: “With more than 3,800 staff in the trust, located across two sites, effective internal communications is extremely important.

“We use the trust’s intranet site and email system to circulate messages to staff, although our front-line staff is unable access their inbox or the intranet as frequently as our administrative and clerical staff.”

To help tackle the problem, the trust introduced DeskAlerts – the web-based messaging tool – around three years ago.

The system allows the trust’s IT and comms teams to send employees alerts and news updates in an organised, not to mention timely, manner.

And employee feedback has been excellent.

Cara added: “DeskAlerts enables the communications and IT teams to send out messages to every PC in the trust, including shared PCs and those just used for clinical access.

“By using DeskAlerts, we can get messages of high importance, such as an issue around hospital capacity or IT problems, out quickly to all areas of the trust, alerting those harder-to-reach clinical staff on the hospital wards.”