I am going to write at least one more article on the future of Hospital Radio. I don’t think it is very bright if stations only continue to be a “Radio Station for people in Hospital” – I hope to back this up with facts and figures to support this claim. In the meantime, I wrote this article which I have submitted to the Hospital Broadcasting Association for sending to their members.
We are aware of the impact that Hospital Broadcasting has on the NHS through the study released a couple of years ago but unfortunately, I don’t think simply broadcasting and ward visiting is enough anymore.
Everyone is having to do ‘more for less’ and I think Hospital Radio stations should be no different. I can understand this is hard to read and the items outlined in this article are simply to act as ideas or suggestions to be made to your trust. These extra activities are designed to make your existence within the Hospital more certain at a time when trusts are being squeezed financially, politically and in some cases physically as the demand for accommodation increases – do you become a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘requirement’?

Interview Room

Do you have an area that could be made available to trust staff during the day that they could go to to be interviewed live or pre-recorded by a radio station? This could literally be a small cupboard area with a PC (you could add a mixer if required). Around half of the BBC local radio stations are now using a web-based SIP audio connection via the Chrome browser so as long as you have a mic going into the machine and a pair of headphones this could be used. You could have Skype on the machine also to connect to others. Plenty of other solutions too – cleanfeed.net is free for example. This would save NHS staff having to leave the site to go to the radio station and it might be that the NHS IT department would supply the PC and/or internet connection. You could then use the room in the evenings to voice track shows or pre-record interviews yourself.

TV Studio

I realise you are thinking ‘we do Radio!’ but if you have a room with no outside light or a larger studio space that isn’t utilised then do consider putting a camera on a tripod connected to a PC. You could start off with a webcam and lapel mic and attach it to skype again to allow some live in vision interviews to be done and build up to a basic camera and a backdrop. This area would serve 2 purposes – live interviews on TV/pre-records and also an area where hospital departments could come in to ‘film’ something for use on their website or on their youtube channel. This could, for example, be the physio department showing those recovering from breaks some common exercises to do to aid recovery. You could use it at the station to do Facebook Lives or pre-records in-vision to put on your Youtube Channel. By offering video/tv as part of the offering you open yourself up to a new group of volunteers.

Audio to Waiting Rooms or external Surgeries.

Think of the charity as an audio providing service to the NHS in your area. Are there waiting rooms, communal areas or even Doctors Surgeries in your area that could do with some audio added to them? If there are, think whether your main hospital radio feed is the best feed for them. We all hope to not spend too much time in a waiting room so perhaps the audio offering needs to be music/info jukebox style. Perhaps investigate ways in which those listening could request a song via an app or touchscreen device in the waiting room to make things more fun for those in those places.

Audio Versions of Literature

Make sure the Hospital are aware that you could voice any printed material they produce to enable those with no or reduced sight to be informed about the services the NHS Trust offers.
The important thing with all of these is to speak with your trust. In most situations, they are your landlord so it makes sense to speak with them so you know of any changes to your accommodation or services. I hope these ideas have been useful to think about and maybe you can try to implement one or two?

Matt Wade

About the writer – Matt was a volunteer for Hospital Radio Chelmsford for 25 years and is now an associate member of the HBA.