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7 May, 2020 - 20:51 By Kate Sweeney

Cupid meets COVID as care home and hospital patients link up on repurposed mobiles

Cambridge-based Bridgeway Security Solutions, a leading UK cyber security provider, has launched Phones for Patients – an initiative which aims to distribute tens of thousands of securely repurposed mobile devices to UK hospitals and care homes. 

The scheme is designed to ensure that hospital patients and care home residents can keep in touch with their loved ones during the COVID-19 lockdown.  

Due to the outbreak of coronavirus all visits to hospitals and care homes have been suspended. Many patients are being admitted to hospitals without their mobile phone or charger while the majority of care home residents rely on face-to-face visits and typically don’t own a mobile device.

As a result, the lockdown has cut off many patients from their loved ones at a time when many are most in need of love and support from those close to them. 

Phones for Patients aims to bridge this communication divide by providing patients with the devices they need to stay in touch. The scheme, run by Bridgeway, will collect mobile devices, chargers and cables donated by organisations and individuals and these are then securely prepared for donation with all existing data and applications securely wiped, and apps such as FaceTime, Zoom and WhatsApp, installed on the devices. 

Cambrionix, another Cambridge-based business, is supporting Bridgeway in the project. To speed up the device preparation process, Cambrionix has lent Bridgeway 12 managed USB hubs, which make it easy to charge, connect, and sync multiple mobile devices at the same time.

Using Cambrionix hubs, Bridgeway can prepare up to 180 devices simultaneously using four Macbooks – meaning phones and tablets can be distributed to patients much faster.

After preparation, the devices are deployed, for free, to participating NHS organisations and care homes for use by patients during their stay. The first NHS recipients of donated devices from Phones for Patients will be Camden and Islington NHS FT, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, South Tees Hospitals NHS FT, Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS FT and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS FT. Other interested Trusts and care homes are encouraged to join the initiative.

Jason Holloway, managing director at Bridgeway and founder of the Phones for Patients initiative said: “We recognise the devastating impact that being cut off from loved ones during such a challenging time has on hospital patients and care home residents across the UK. 

“This is why we have launched this free initiative and our whole team is dedicating their work and spare time to make this happen. The first donations have been kindly pledged by Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue Services, and Torbay Council.

“We have already secured donations of nearly 4,000 devices, with more being pledged in coming days. If any organisation has recently upgraded their mobile fleets, we urge them to donate the devices to Phones for Patients, where they can really make a difference to peoples’ lives.” 

Iain O’Neil, Digital Transformation director at NHSX, said: “Innovation that supports sometimes the simplest but most essential things in life, like helping us all stay in touch, are so important right now. 

“The technology sector continues to share ideas and initiatives designed to support people during this crisis and I commend such efforts in such difficult times.”

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