Thursday, November 24, 2005

Connecting With Nurses

Connecting With Nurses - NHS Connecting for Health

A new document from Heather Tierney-Moore and Barbara Stuttle clinical leads for nursing within NHS Connecting for Health has been published on their web site identifying benefits for nurses and midwives from the implementation of the National Programme for IT, including;

While nurses will adopt different approaches to practices such as record-keeping, the focus will remain firmly on the delivery of consistent, high quality professional practice.

“Nurses will be able to electronically share information between teams and across acute and community boundaries, providing the fast efficient flow of information that patients would expect,” says Heather Tierney-Moore.

“They will no longer have to spend a large part of their day recording written information time and time again, chasing up results and trying to locate paperwork that has gone astray. It will all be done for them by the new technologies, freeing up more of their time for patients.

“And they won’t have to make endless telephone calls to arrange appointments and leave messages because the National Programme will give them a modern secure email system.”

In addition, it will provide decision-making tools that “will clearly and safely support rapidly changing practice,” says Barbara Stuttle.

“Evidence-based protocols will be set behind the electronic patient record so that when nurses enter a diagnosis, the computer will flag up a particular route of action for them to take. This will be particularly advantageous for newly qualified nurses or those working in unfamiliar areas.”

Each of the four major areas; electronic appointment booking (Choose and Book), an electronic care records service (the NHS CRS), a system for the electronic transmission of prescriptions (ETP) and a fast, reliable underlying IT infrastructure are considered.

Heather says: “As the biggest single professional group in the NHS, nurses, midwives and health visitors often understand better than anybody how information really flows through a hospital or community.

“It’s therefore vitally important that we get them involved in informing the design of new technology, to ensure we get workable systems.

“A lot of nurses working at grass roots level have not previously heard about NHS Connecting for Health and for them the new technology seems a long way off. Because many have limited access to IT, they are also concerned about getting adequate training to be able to cope when the new systems arrive."

“Then there are people at the other end of the scale who have a particular interest in health informatics and have actually put some systems in place themselves. These nurses are really worried that the National Progamme is too focused around hospital doctors and GPs and that the nursing voice isn’t being properly heard."

“We are working to get the message across to everyone that the only way forward is for them to get actively involved in asking questions, putting their ideas across and, if they haven’t already got it, equipping themselves with basic computer training in preparation.”

A second document sets out the need for engagement with the programme.

Lets hope that they will successful in their mission and that nurses will get actively involved in the implementation, and not see it as one more imposed change which makes their work harder rather than easier.

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