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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 February 2006, 12:55 GMT
Talking badges for hospital staff
Voice-activated badge: Picture Sam Morgan-Moore
The hands-free devices will not interfere with sensitive equipment
A new communications system being tested at a Cornish hospital could eventually replace pagers, walkie-talkies and mobile phones.

Health workers at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro are piloting the tiny voice-activated badges, which weigh less than 2oz (57g).

The badge allows instant communication between staff by simply saying a person's name or department.

The system, already in use in the United States, was developed by BT.

This new system is simple to use
Simon Goodwin, NHS IT Director

The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust is the first hospital in the UK with the BT Managed Vocera system, aimed at environments where key staff need to be contacted urgently and are often away from desk phones.

Steve Wells, from BT Health, said the badges overcame many deficiencies in other technologies and could improve productivity for hospital personnel.

He said: "We are delighted to be working with the trust, which is trail-blazing this technology in the UK healthcare market."

The hospital said if the pilot was successful the new badges could be used by all hospital staff and could eventually replace pagers, walkie-talkies and mobile phones.

Simon Goodwin, director of IT for the Cornwall NHS Community, said a reliable and secure hospital communications system was vital.

"This new system is simple to use and will allow us to respond more quickly to our patients' needs", he said.

The badges also mean staff do not need to memorise phone numbers or carry lists with them.

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