Tuesday, March 20, 2007

HC2007 - BCS Nursing Specialist Group session

The annual satellite session organised by the British Computer Society's Nursing Specialist Group ( took place on Tuesday moring, and was titled 'Challenging boundaries or grappling with fuzzy edges?' There were 4 short presentations, followed by discussion. Richard Hayward, NSG Chair, opened the session. The first speaker was Janette Bennett, Senior Clinical Advisor with the BT Health Executive; she quoted Florence Nightingale as saying 'I look forward to the abolition of all hospitals ... but it is no use talking about the year 2000'. In looking at boundaries and challenges, and making changes in practices, she looks at professional issues, education issues, the research needed to inform decisions, and finally the management aspects, including roles, skill mix, etc. The shift to care in the community does not seem to be providing that kind of thinking, and this causes Janette concern. There need to be radical changes to the ways of working (eg virtual support services), and these have radical implications for the nature of education needs. She sees possibilities for new online environments, such as MySpace, for modelling new ways of working, learning and thinking. Underlying infrastructures, rather than technologies, she suggests, are what provide the real boundaries to be addressed.

Rebecca Randall, from City University, talked about computerised decision support systems (CDSS, eg as used in NHSDirect) pushing the boundaries of nursing roles. Her talk was based in the work undertaken in the recent Department of Health funded study into nurses' use of technology. She says there is a blurred boundary between supported and unsupported decision making, and whether CDSS directly supports decision making. Helen Sampson talked about the challenges in the workplace for frontline staff, as nursing roles change, and working at the boundaries of health and social care. She says that nurses now do know what kinds of information they want to record about care – but that elements of the National Programme are dictating what can be done, and this does not always match with what nurses want. Peter Murray presented some thoughts on boundaries between everyday life and education, and of the real boundaries being cultural, and also discussed scenario planning as a way of thinking about possible futures and emerging boundaries. A wide ranging discussion followed the presentations, with concerns being expressed about the ability of information systems to support the real needs of the clinical end users.

The satellite was followed by the Annual General Meeting of the BCS NSG.

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