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Digital temperature monitoring helps protect food supplies

17 December 2010

London's King Edward VII's Hospital in London installed Digitrak, a wireless digitally operated temperature monitoring system manufactured in the UK by Digitron four years ago

London’s King Edward VII’s Hospital has provided care to many members of the Royal family and celebrities including Elton John, so it's no surprise quality standards are high. With the Queen as its Patron, this charity operated private hospital invests in new technologies to ensure the comfort of patients during their stay.

The hospital installed Digitrak, a wireless digitally operated temperature monitoring system manufactured in the UK by Digitron four years ago, and since then has reaped the benefits in many ways.

Not only does the system monitor all 19 fridges in the catering department, it also ensures blood supplies and bone marrow are kept at optimum temperatures. The system instantly alerts staff to fluctuations in temperatures to help preserve produce and vital clinical supplies.

Mark Ryder, Head Chef at the hospital believes the system has paid for itself many times over. He said: “We have found uses for Digitrak throughout the hospital, not only in the kitchen, but also within the clinical unit and even to monitor computer equipment in the server room, which can cause huge problems for the hospital if it was to overheat.

“At a glance I can check the performance of all 19 fridges in the kitchens and wards remotely from a computer and can take quick action if a freezer door has been left open or there is an electrical fault. When a freezer door was left open accidentally recently, I was quickly alerted and managed to save hundreds of pounds of ice cream.”

King Edward VII’s Hospital in Marelybone has been delivering high quality healthcare since 1899. It has over 60 en-suite private rooms including a Critical Care Unit and Mark is in charge of 12 kitchen staff.

The chef, who left school and trained with the Royal Navy, eventually progressing to the esteemed rank of personal chef to Sir Jock Slater, The First Sea Lord and Head of the Royal Navy, produces four course menus for patients, more similar to a top class restaurant than a hospital.

He believes the wireless Digitrak system has been instrumental in ensuring the hospital complies with increasingly strict food standards and environmental health inspections. King Edward VII’s Hospital was awarded five stars from the Food Standard’s Agency’s ‘Scores on the Doors’ scheme which is the highest accreditation for food safety, hygiene and cleanliness.

Ryder said: “I have no doubt that Digitrak plays a major role in achieving good environmental health inspections as it demonstrates that we have invested in new technology and take food safety very seriously.

“It also allows us to check back on the daily history of each of our fridges, so I can see two weeks ago and even two years ago, how a fridge was performing and if there have been any concerns. When it comes to health and safety in a hospital, you simply can’t take risks.”

Previous to installing Digitrak, Ryder would monitor the fridges manually, recording the temperatures in spreadsheets, which took up valuable time. He said: “The time that the digital system saves is significant and it really does give you that extra security. It’s one less thing to think about in an extremely busy kitchen.”

Torquay headquartered Digitron is part of the Elektron Ventures division of Elektron plc. The 40-year-old company is redeveloping its range of temperature systems as well as creating bespoke instruments. It's gearing up to launch the next version of Digitron Kyros, which will allow users to instantly check data from multi-sites remotely.

Peter Needham, Sales Manager at Digitron said: “The success of Digitrak at King Edward VII’s Hospital demonstrates the many applications for real-time temperature monitoring.

“We believe digital temperature monitoring should form part of a hospital’s strategy to minimise risks and we can work with all the different departments to ensure they are getting the most out of the technology and will provide ongoing support.”

Ryder added: “Every hospital in the country has a duty to create efficiencies where ever possible and improve standards and Digitrak is a great way of achieving that. It more than pays for itself.”

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