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Aneurin Bevan Health Board to electronically tag linen

When it comes to cutting costs in the NHS, bed linen might not be the first place you'd think to start.

But one health board is putting electronic tags on its sheets, pillow cases and bed clothes, to help save them over a quarter of a million pounds a year.

Aneurin Bevan Health Board say that between 2011 and 2012, £400,000 worth of linen was lost.

Nicola Hendy reports.

Health board hopes to save £250,000 by tagging linen

Health bosses are hoping to save more than a quarter of a million pounds annually by electronically-tagging hospital linen.

Aneurin Bevan Health Board says it spends almost £400,000 a year on replacing linen that's gone missing.

As well as saving money, electronic tagging will allow every item to be identified to ensure hospitals have a reliable supply.

"A lot of it gets thrown away because people consider it too dirty to be washed" says Alan Dudley.

"Some of it is stolen and a fair bit goes home with the patients.

What we're gonna do is tag all the linen with a machine readable tag. We expect to reduce our loss rate from 40 percent which is what it is now to 10 per cent or loss "

Health board hopes to save thousands by electronically tagging hospital linen

The health board process 12 million pieces of linen a year Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Health bosses at Aneurin Bevan Health Board are hoping to save more than a quarter of a million pounds annually, by radio - tagging hospital linen.

The board says it spends almost £400,000 a year replacing linen that's gone missing.

As well as saving money, they hope electronic tagging will ensure hospitals have a reliable supply of linen.

The tagging system will allow every item to be identified and will help in tracking details such as when items have been dispatched and collected from the health board's laundry service.

Aneurin Bevan Health Board has invested money from the Welsh Government's Invest-to-Save scheme to start the process.

MP calls for relationship between Welsh and English health services to change

There are calls for the entire relationship between the Welsh and English health services to be renegotiated.

Hereford MP Jesse Norman says his constituents should have the right to go to a hospital in England, even if they're registered with a doctor in Wales, as our Political Editor Adrian Masters reports.

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English patients' cross-border concerns - Welsh Government statement

The Welsh Government says health boards are obliged to treat patients as close to their homes as possible and that they have the flexibility to refer outside their board areas when necessary. A spokesperson says the Aneurin Bevan boards' policy was alway going to be reviewed after six months.

We have made it clear that it is the responsibility of health boards to secure high quality, safe care for their residents as close to a patient’s home as possible, while taking into account the needs of the community as a whole and making best use of their resources. Each health board is reviewing services to achieve this. Where they feel the patient’s circumstances and clinical need justify this, health boards do have the flexibility to refer patients outside their area.

Aneurin Bevan Health Board has confirmed that the majority of referrals received on behalf of English residents since the policy has been in place have been approved, based on clinical needs and personal circumstances. From the outset the Health Board confirmed it would review its out of area policy after six months.

This review has now been undertaken by the Health Board who have agreed an amendment to the policy subject to consideration by the Community Health Council at its Executive Committee on 29 August 2013. This amendment will mean prior approval will not be required for English residents registered with Monmouthshire GPs for Health Board designated cross border providers.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

'A proper renegotiation' needed between Welsh and English health service says MP

Jesse Norman MP has welcomed as 'a first step' a decision by Aneurin Bevan health board to allow English residents who are registered with Welsh GPs to be referred to hospitals in England.

But the Hereford and South Herefordshire MP says there needs to be a 'proper renegotiation' of agreements between the services on both sides of the border to make sure patients are fairly treated.

Cross-border patients can use English hospitals say health chiefs

Aneurin Bevan Health Board has now changed its policy so that English residents who are registered with a Welsh GP can now be referred to hospitals in the Wye Valley, Gloucestershire and Bristol areas.

In a statement it also recognises that there's been 'misunderstanding' in the community over the policy and that it's communication was partly to blame.

We have been concerned that despite our reassurances the nature of the Policy was not fully understood. We accept that this has been caused to some extent by how this was communicated by the Health Board, and partly by misunderstanding within the community.

We do hope that by taking positive action to undertake this early review of the Policy based on our actual data and experience we can allay many of the concerns and fears that residents might have had.

– Aneurin Bevan Health Board
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