The Royal College of Nursing has said nurses should be more involved in the digital transformation of healthcare.
It follows a consultation exercise that showed many nurses have felt that the ICT used in the health service does not work well for them and they have been left out of the design of systems.
Almost 900 nurses and midwives took part in the RCN’s online consultation earlier this year, with over 100 more attending five in-depth focus groups held across the four countries of the UK.
The RCN said that until the NHS takes full advantage of the expertise and views of nurses – the largest single staff group in the health service – it won’t be able to realise all the benefits digital technology can bring for patients and staff.
Ross Scrivener (pictured), RCN eHealth lead, said: “In the past few weeks leading up to the 70th anniversary of the NHS, we’ve heard a succession of health care leaders arguing that the best way to transform health care in the UK is to utilise the full benefits of digital technology.
“But our consultation shows that that aim will remain a pipe-dream unless managers, technology providers and IT staff take more account of the views of nurses.
“The responses to our survey reveal some depressingly mundane barriers to nurses’ full participation in digital transformation, from WiFi that doesn’t work, to computers that take too long to log on.
“The single most important theme to emerge from the consultation is that involving nurses in the design and implementation of programmes and systems to improve patient care is not an optional add-on – it is absolutely vital.”
NHS Digital support
The call won the support of NHS Digital – the provider of digital services for NHS England, who senior clinical lead and nurse Caron Swinscoe said it is committed to involving nurses and midwives in its work.
“It is absolutely right that nurses’ views and expertise should be listened to and taken on board for all the benefits of digital technology to be realised when treating patients,” she said. Understanding how work is done rather than how work is imagined to be done is vital.
“The people on the frontline need technology to work as effectively as possible whether they are in a hospital or caring for someone in their home. The only way to ensure this happens is to involve those staff, who do the work day by day, in the design, development and implementation of digital health technology. Every nurse and midwife has something to contribute to the debate.”