Tracking Induction and Simulation Training at NHS Nightingale Hospital London

Monitoring attendance for the NHS training that got London through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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When Barts Health NHS Trust were asked to manage the NHS Nightingale Hospital London, the UK’s first COVID-19 field hospital, they used CATQR to:

  • Train a large workforce at pace in order to respond quickly to the challenges of the pandemic.
  • Maintain real-time, complete, accurate records of who had attended training sessions and completed competency assessments in order to safely care for patients.
  • Remove paper registers and manual processes with an online attendance registration system, replacing attendance signatures with QR code scans.

Background

When the NHS announced the opening of NHS Nightingale Hospital, the UK’s first COVID-19 field hospital, at London’s ExCeL Centre in March 2020, Barts Health NHS Trust were asked to provide its overall governance.

The Trust’s Education Academy quickly realised that managing training for the Nightingale workforce posed a huge challenge. Hundreds of people, including members of the Army, NHS, St John’s Ambulance, London Ambulance Services, students, and volunteers, would be attending a range of courses each day: the most extreme scenario they had planned for required 27,824 members of staff, all of whom needed training ASAP!

With so many individuals requiring different levels of training at pace, keeping track of who had attended what would be an extremely difficult but a crucial part of ensuring that everyone was ready to tackle the challenge of COVID-19.

Usual forms of taking attendance were insufficient for this task. Paper registers would be a nightmare to manage for trainers and administrators alike as they could be filled out incorrectly or even lost, and data entry would take up critical hours. Card readers, on the other hand, would require significant investment in infrastructure, and in an ad hoc location like the ExCeL Centre were just too impractical to consider.

During the UK lock-down in 2020, CATQR was selected by the NHS to monitor induction and simulation training in real-time for thousands of staff and volunteers at London’s ExCeL Centre and O2 Arena.

During the UK lock-down in 2020, CATQR was selected by the NHS to monitor induction and simulation training in real-time for thousands of staff and volunteers at London’s ExCeL Centre and O2 Arena.

“At the time, there was no vaccine and the world was just starting to learn how to respond to COVID-19. With so many unknowns and challenges, ensuring staff safety and wellbeing was of paramount importance, and so a solution that would allow for social distancing was needed.

People want real-time data, and want it to be accurate. With the success we’ve seen by introducing CATQR, we believe QR code solutions like this, and its overall approach to attendance tracking, will quickly become the norm, not the exception, and we’re excited to be pioneers of that development.”

- Lois Whittaker, Managing Director of the Education Academy at Barts Health NHS Trust

The solution

As a digital system for monitoring training attendance, CATQR was the perfect solution for Barts Health’s needs.

With the scan of a QR code that takes organisers seconds to create, attendees were able to sign in to training events and access learning resources using their mobile phones. Real-time data was then provided to trainers and administrators, giving them instant feedback on who had attended their training sessions.

No new infrastructure needed to be installed - with all the hassle that that would cause - as the only devices required were the computers, tablets and phones that trainers and attendees already had on hand. Students were able to sign-in using their own mobile phones, without any delays in teaching. With CATQR, teachers were finally able to deliver their full training sessions, and attendees could benefit from receiving the full amount of knowledge needed to work at NHS Nightingale.

Compare this with how much time a paper register would take, as was the Education Academy’s usual practice before introducing CATQR: the organiser would have to wait five minutes past the start of the session for everyone to arrive, spend another five minutes doing roll call or passing around a sign-in sheet, and use five more minutes to chase up latecomers and make sure the attendance record was accurate. If the session is an hour long, a quarter of it is instantly wasted.

CATQR mobile app scanning a class QR code with the attendance record showing immediately on the app and administrator analytics.

CATQR mobile app scanning a class QR code with the attendance record showing immediately on the app and administrator analytics.

With staff signing in and out with their mobile phones, Barts Health NHS Trust also used CATQR to maintain accurate records of who was in the building at any one time for safety purposes - a feature that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) were especially impressed with for its potential for use in evacuation. In the same way, if somebody caught COVID they had accurate records of who the individual had been in close contact with during training, and could notify those affected.

In cases where attendees did not have mobile phones to hand, CATQR still provided a fuss- and contact-free solution for registering attendance - organisers simply entered the attendee’s email address themselves, and a record of their attendance would be created which the attendee could validate once they had email access.

CATQR mobile app scanning a class QR code with the attendance record showing immediately on the app and administrator analytics.

CATQR mobile app scanning a class QR code with the attendance record showing immediately on the app and administrator analytics.

Results

“CATQR has been brilliant for us: it’s provided a really simple and straightforward way in order to ensure that all our participants check into each of the stations they should be.” Those are the words of Libby Thomas, Consultant in Emergency Medicine from the NHS Nightingale Education and Training Team.

Thanks to CATQR, all of a sudden the Barts Health NHS Trust’s administration team had access to real-time attendance records with no gaps, without requiring any manual input on their part: this freed up critical time for them to manage other aspects of the COVID-19 response.

In real-time, Barts Health were able to see who had attended each station, and whether they had passed the competency tests required to work at NHS Nightingale Hospital London. Over April and May 2020 alone, 1,693 learners signed up to the CATQR system, registering 13,374 attendance signatures with QR code scans. This represents on average one learner attending nearly 8 training sessions.

This gave the Trust the assurance they needed that everyone in their workforce was fully trained and ready to safely care for their patients. And since no new infrastructure was required to implement CATQR, staff at the hospital could use it immediately for training - just what they needed in the pandemic.

Following the success of CATQR at NHS Nightingale Hospital London, the Trust used CATQR again when Barts Health assumed the role of Lead Provider for the COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Centres at London's ExCeL Centre and Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre. The Education Academy was responsible for ensuring that thousands of staff were appropriately trained and prepared staff to deliver vaccines safely and efficiently. The Trust won the prestigious Health Tech Newspaper Award 2022.

CATQR used at the COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Centre at London’s Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre.

CATQR used at the COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Centre at London’s Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre.


During the UK lock-down in 2020, CATQR was selected by the NHS to monitor induction and simulation training in real-time for thousands of staff and volunteers at London’s ExCeL Centre and O2 Arena.

Video Production from JJ Hunt. During the UK lock-down in 2020, CATQR was selected by the NHS to monitor induction and simulation training in real-time for thousands of staff and volunteers at London’s ExCeL Centre and O2 Arena.



About Class Attendance Tracker (CAT) QR

Class Attendance Tracker QR (CATQR) is an award-winning digital solution for monitoring training attendance that maximises learning time. With the scan of a QR code, attendees can sign in and immediately view confirmation of their attendance on the CAT mobile app. It takes seconds for organisers to create a class QR code and they can view all attendance data in real time.

The CAT QR solution was developed in conjunction with Barts Health NHS Trust, which employs over 24,000 permanent and temporary staff and manages internationally renowned teaching hospitals, St Bartholomew’s Hospital and The Royal London Hospital.

CATQR has interoperable system links enabling attendance data to be shared with other systems automatically, assuming the individual has given their consent. CATQR also has cheat prevention techniques built in so that people can’t register their attendance if they’re not in class!