Health bosses have signalled that the days of the ‘bleep’ are now numbered in East and North Herts NHS Trust hospitals.

‘Bleeps’ – or pagers – have been carried by generations of doctors, enabling them to be contacted around the hospital campus.

They are often seen at the heart of TV medical dramas – with a bleep prompting a medic to rush-off to a nearby phone.

In practice the ‘bleeps’ can be used by hospital staff to notify each other if they need to discuss something related to a patient.

Or they can be used to notify medics about an emergency – such as a patient going into cardiac arrest.

But until the bleep is answered medics are unlikely to to know who is calling, the reasons why or the level of urgency.

As a result, critics have said they can interrupt work, waste time and make the prioritisation of tasks difficult.

Now chief information officer Mark Stanton has signalled that the ‘bleep’ system is to be phased out at the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust - which operates Lister in Stevenage and the New QEII in Welwyn Garden City.

It will be replaced by a mobile phone app – that will be able to send more information.

The move away from the ‘bleep’ was highlighted at a meeting of the Trust’s board earlier this month.

In a statement issued to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting Mr Stanton outlined the planned change.

“Clinicians have used bleeps to communicate with each other since the 1950s – working in a very similar way to a pager,” he said.

“While this used to be a highly effective way to alert a clinician about an emergency issue, technology has developed significantly in recent years.  

“Later this year, we will be introducing a new way for clinicians to receive emergency messages through a mobile phone application – this new system is called ‘Alertive’.  

“Using Alertive, users will be able to send urgent notifications to their colleagues when they need support, enabling them to instantly provide more information about a patient’s condition than is currently possible through a bleep. 

“We expect Alertive to improve communication between staff by providing a clearer and more concise messaging service for teams and departments across the Trust, supporting more collaborative and aligned patient care.”  

The meeting of the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust Board was held on May 1.