A HOSPITAL has introduced James Bond-style technology to protect drug supplies at its accident and emergency department.

A hi-tech drugs cabinet uses fingerprint recognition to allow doctors and nurses to open it.

The Conquest in St Leonards is one of the first hospitals on the south coast to use the system, which costs £20,000 per cabinet.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust wants to introduce more of the secure cabinets at some of its other departments and sites, including Eastbourne District General Hospital.

The cabinet has all the medicines required by the A&E department and is accessed through a computer-controlled user ID and fingerprint access security system.

The cabinet is linked by computer to the hospital pharmacy to ensure stock levels are maintained.

Until now, staff had to order all of their own medicines from the pharmacy department and then put the stock away themselves.

The introduction of the new cabinet means doctors and nurses no longer have to hunt for the key and it also ensures tighter security.

A&E department senior charge nurse James Flaherty said: “This new drugs cabinet with its James Bond-style fingertip security pad helps staff access the correct medicines for patients a lot quicker than in the past.

“Importantly, it will help to free-up nursing time to spend more with patients.

“It also has additional features to monitor and record the temperature at which we store our medicines, help to minimise any medicine errors and provide an itemised account of what drugs have been accessed and by whom.”

Pharmacy operations manager Amanda Isted said: “We believe that this will all save a huge amount of nursing resource to free them up to care for patients.

“Medicines will be much easier to find because when a nurse asks for a particular item, a light on the cabinet will indicate where that item is and essential medicines should never run out because pharmacy will be alerted in good time.”