See also:UCLH CIOJames Thomas on supplier managementUCLH CIOJames Thomas on negotiating regulatory scrutiny\nAs he sought election, David Cameron spoke of his parents\u2019 approach to public service and the difference they made. Meeting the ICT Director of University College London Hospital (UCLH) James Thomas\u00ad is to meet a CIO who has dedicated his own unique skillsets to make the NHS in this country better and play a part in the \u201cbig society\u201d.\nUCLH is a model of how well the NHS works in the trusts that are really making a difference. Its new hospital complex on the corner of Warren Street and Euston Road in London is a beacon of modern healthcare and has an excellent reputation.\nUCLH is in an enviable position. It manages its Foundation Trust efficiently, and as a result has a surplus which it is ploughing back into healthcare by \u00addeveloping a world-leading specialist cancer hospital.\nAs with all organisations that are performing well, a lot of its success is down to the management and that includes the innovative use of technology. UCLH is an amalgamation of seven hospitals with a \u00a3700m turnover providing \u00adpatient care, research and development and education, which makes it one of the most complex NHS trusts in the country.\n\u201cWe are heavily linked to the R&D agenda\u00ad as part of the University College London (UCL) and are one of the top \u00adresearch hospitals in the world. We also partner with Yale in the US,\u201d Thomas says.\n\u201cThat means we are constantly changing and improving the way that we care. It is not your standard NHS world.\n\u201cIt\u2019s very stimulating for consultants and trainees,\u201d he says. UCLH is a national centre for neuroscience, dental and heart healthcare, but also has to provide the \u2018standard\u2019 services we all expect of a hospital like A&E and maternity wards.\nTo cope with these demands UCLH has a history of really working its building stock, Thomas explains.\nThe new hospital was phase 2 of the latest programme, a new Cancer Wellness centre will open in April 2012 and then the construction of a proton beam therapy centre, one of the first in Europe, will be the fourth phase.\n\u201cEight thousand people work here: 6500 on our payroll, the rest with UCL on an honouree appointment,\u201d he says.\n\nCritical communications As one of London\u2019s most central hospitals UCLH plays a critical role in the capital\u2019s healthcare. To my surprise Thomas explained that the hospital has to react to a major accident every six months.\nThe hospital was crucial to patients when terrorists bombed a bus nearby in July 2005, but major accidents are far more common than the events of 7\/7, and Thomas says a problem like a fire at another hospital can lead to an sudden \u00adincrease in patients at UCLH.\n\u201cThe Olympics or a protest have the \u00adpotential to be a major accident and we are a category one civil response centre.\u201d\nWhen such incidents take place, they place an incredible strain on the communications infrastructure of a hospital. As 7\/7 demonstrated the mobile phone networks can also get overwhelmed, again hampering communications for hospitals.\nUCLH countered this threat with a groundbreaking managed services unified\u00ad communications project with Azzurri which is now being copied by other trusts.\nIn March 2010 Azzurri and UCLH completed phase one of the \u00a310m seven-year managed service transformation of all data, voice and mobile communications infrastructure at UCLH.\nOver 18 months the \u00adentire fixed line infrastructure at UCLH was replaced and a private local mobile phone network was installed so that if a crisis like 7\/7 occurred again, UCLH would not lose its mobile communications capabilities.\nThis is the first private mobile network in the NHS and carries a full BlackBerry-based integration of voice and data.\nUCLH and Azzurri began the operation\u00ad by auditing the use of all data, mobile, pager\u00ad and voice infrastructures and contracts. It discovered the existing data network would not survive an upgrade and that there were 11 separate landline systems in operation across the trust.\nWhat exists today is a totally new pico\u00adcell-based mobile network, a bedside IT system used by patients and clinicians that reduces paper and cross-contamination caused by laptops, a smart messaging system for patients and an on-site communications helpdesk service provided by Azzurri.\nThomas says that the project involved all medical directors of UCLH and was implemented using Prince2 and ITIL standards, with continual auditing by the trust\u2019s information governance team, the Azzurri quality department and KPMG.\nThe project was completed on time and on budget, and as a managed services deal no capital expenditure passed from UCLH. Azzurri also struck an advertising deal for patient-side \u00adsystems to carry some of the costs.\n\u201cWith Azzurri we have a market-leading proposal and we have broken the mono\u00adpoly of [bedside phone provider] \u00adPatientLine,\u201d Thomas says.