NHS prescribes £22,500 worth of iPad


EARLIER this week it was announced that the city council would spend £18,000 on iPads for councillors, now health chiefs have spent £22,500 on tablets for senior managers.

NHS Lothian said the investment in the 35 iPads would save almost £40,000 on printing and couriering papers to board members.

Most NHS papers are 350 pages long and need to be couriered to each member when they are published only a few days before meetings.

Photo:Robert Scoble

With the iPads board members will be able to download the papers and take them to the meeting.

Like other NHS Lothian computers, the internet will be restricted making websites like Facebook and YouTube unavailable. Tablet settings have been set to basic so no games can be played.

With cheaper tablets available, the board have said iPads were chosen as they can be encrypted, they have longer battery life and board members could use iCloud to access papers without having to use a PC.

Dr Charles Winstanley, chairman of NHS Lothian said: “We would be surprised if anybody objected to a small investment in technology that will save the board tens of thousands of pounds over the next few years.

“Electronic tablets are used in almost every walk of life and are seen as tools of the trade. I can think of very few health boards that do not use this carbon-friendly way of reading papers.

“Our investment will be recovered in seven to nine months and ensure ongoing savings of nearly £40,000 a year.”

The council are also investing in the fashionable tablet to save money in the long term and reduce waste.

The council said the 58 iPads would cost £18,000 and the Wi-Fi sytem, £29,000 resulting in a bill of almost £50,000 for taxpayers.

Critics accused the council of indulging itself with flashy gadgets and predicted the move would fail to save on waste paper.

The council says the tablet computers will save cash overall. The authority claims the savings from no longer printing committee papers will amount to £200,000 annually.

John Stevenson, president of the City Council’s Unison branch, said the computers hundreds of workers had to use every day were sub-standard.

He said: “They would be better looking at the computer system for everyone in the council and getting that fit for purpose because it’s not at the moment.

“It’s slow, clunky and you have to wait ages to do anything.“

But Alastair Maclennan, director of corporate governance defended the spending.

He said: “Such innovations are standard practice in the business world and we need to do the same.

“It also pays for itself in the first year and provides recurring benefits.”

NHS Lothian have spent £17,500 on the iPads and £5000 on set-up, software, encryption, IT support and cases.

A desicion to have 3G connection at the additonal cost of £4500 a year was made so emails are more accessable.

On Wednesday, at the first NHS Lothian board meeting using papers downloaded on the iPad, Dr Winstanley said: “I think it’s a really good decision which not only saves us money, but will be a lot easier once we’re used to it.”