Hospital staff to get 3G mobile phones

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 October, 2007, 12:00am

The Hospital Authority is to spend HK$154 million upgrading internal communications for frontline staff.

Their pagers and digital enhanced cordless phones, or dect phones, will be replaced by 3G mobile phones.

Doctors are now forbidden from using mobile phones on wards to prevent interference with medical equipment. Instead, the hospitals provide pagers or dect phones to doctors and some frontline staff.

The ban on mobile phones will be removed in all hospitals later this month.

The authority will run a pilot scheme next year in three hospitals - Eastern, Princess Margaret and Kwai Chung - to replace the pagers and dect phones with 3G mobile phones for the frontline staff.

Raymond Wong Siu-keung, the authority's chief manager of business support services, said many international studies had found the frequency of 3G mobile phones was low and would have limited interference on medical equipment.

'Calling the doctors' mobile phones, instead of paging them and waiting for them to call back, will be more efficient in an emergency,' he said, stressing the use of mobile phones on wards would be restricted to official purposes.

Doctors will not be allowed to use them within 1 metre of medical equipment.

The use of mobile phones will remain banned in special rooms like operating theatres and intensive care units.

The pilot scheme will cost about HK$26 million and involve the purchase of about 1,300 3G mobile phones. The new system will cost about HK$300,000 a year to operate in a major hospital.

If the trial is satisfactory, the authority will gradually introduce the 3G telecommunication system to all 41 public hospitals in the next five to eight years, with an estimated budget of HK$154 million.