The health service holds some of the most sensitive personal information available, so it is essential that the NHS take great care protecting this confidential data. Here, Gareth Ellams, managing director at ASSA ABLOY Access Control, a UK division of ASSA ABLOY, the global leader in door opening solutions offers an insight into how access control systems can enhance security, while working within tough budget constraints in order to help the NHS to protect valuable data

assapic2Public sector budgets are likely to be squeezed hard as the government strives to deliver its planned reduction in the budget deficit. Facilities managers are charged with the difficult task of prioritising budgets for all areas of maintenance in hospitals; yet the financial impact of a security breach should not be underestimated, when making purchasing decisions.

Hospitals deal with a large number of people including permanent and temporary staff, patients and visitors and not forgetting contractors on sites too; this transient population makes it increasingly difficult to safeguard confidential information.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has issued fines totaling £1.3m to NHS organisations for data breaches, highlighting the alarming financial reality of security breaches and the importance of taking preventative measures. Ultimately, investing in the right systems can provide the NHS with cost effective and efficient solutions.

The protection of high value goods and sophisticated medical equipment is a priority. The mix of public and private spaces in medical establishments makes it challenging for facilities managers to allow a level of freedom of movement, while restricting access to areas that contain expensive equipment.

Access control systems are needed to enhance safety and security, to restrict access to only those people with the necessary authority, without unnecessarily inconveniencing staff, visitors and patients. These intelligent systems can be employed to allow patients and visitors access so they can navigate through establishments easily, whilst doctors, nurses and staff can gain further access when required.

assapic3ASSA ABLOY Access Control would recommend a combined solution such as Aperio wireless locking technology. Aperio enables mechanical locks to be wirelessly linked to a new or existing access control system, without any door modification required. Systems like this allow hospitals to quickly update authorisations, without having to be concerned about the cost of an organisation being disrupted, if physical lock changes had to take place.
Easy to install and operate, cost effective Aperio can update room access authorisations online and in real time. It thus creates an intelligent access control solution, which can discreetly monitor employees’ attendance without the need to encroach on civil liberties or freedom of movement. If a security breach takes place, it is possible for an access control system to record when a door is unlocked, so administrators can trace individuals that have passed through the doors.

For facilities managers and building owners in hospitals, it is necessary to strike a balance between creating a welcoming environment and a secure environment – while factoring in budgeting restrictions. Making wise investments in robust security measures that will stand the test of time should help to eliminate data breeches and damages to equipment, as well as other issues that could occur from compromising security.

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