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Thursday, March 02, 2006

NSG meeting with C4H Nursing Leads

Yesterday evening I attended a meeting organised by the British Computer Society Nursing Specialist Group (NSG) with Barbara Stuttle and Susan Osborne the two newly appointed nursing clinical leads for NHS Connecting for Health.

Apart from terrible train journeys it was an interesting meeting - if a little short on detail for me. Barbara and Susan were welcomed by Richard Hayward NSG Chair at the Bloomsbury Holiday Inn Hotel, London

Barbara opened her presentation by making light of the fact that the projector and laptop were not working properly by suggesting "it's normally Connecting for Health (C4H) that gets accused of not delivering".

She set out how she sees her role as the "voice of nursing" on C4H, & perhaps it's conscience. The international perspective included not just the relationship between England and the other four countries in the UK but also a recent trip she had made to the HIMSS conference in the USA. This highlighted global issues for nursing which are vital for the quality of care.

Cost and investment in C4H inevitably was considered along with current political buzz topics such as choice and an overview of the complexity of the largest civil IT programme in the world.

Barbara used examples from her own time as a patient to describe the advantages to be gained from the programme, with improvements in patient records and cultural changes. Each of the components of C4H was briefly described and placed in context within a changing world of multidisciplinary and multiagency working of health and social care, with "outside" providers increasingly providing care for patients, and how they need to be enabled to access records to provide optimum care.

Telemonitoring, particularly for elderly patients featured prominently, and linked to discussions of social interaction and the need to make the technology user-friendly and understandable for all. Barabara described her obvious delight at using a tablet PC - likening it to an "EtchaSketch" !

Further highlights included improvements in confidentiality and raising standards - reducing variances, meauring who's good & who isn't and making nursing evidence enabled.

The importantce of education and training with projects for curriculum development was highlighted - however perennial issues of "backfill" to replace staff on courses continue to prove a barrier. Barbara argued that even when money is made available for backfill, appropriate staff were not available to cover the shifts.

She concluded with positive comments about nurses as the "glue of the NHS" and a vital conduit for communication who will be supported by appropriate and accessible IT - and hinted at a new programme for 2006.

Susan Osborne then spoke briefly from her perspective within acute care, mentioning the wireless capabilities for ECG monitoring & the pilot of a bedside robot at St Mary's Hospital, and ID bands with bar codes and the capability to monitor vital signs.

She consluded with positive comments about the exciting times which develop nurses analytical skills and encourgaing clinical staff to "say what they want".

The presentations were followed by a wide ranging set of questions and answers, with some discussion, from the speakers and those who attended. These included;

* Mechanising processes with system add ons rather than supporting nursing practice
* Education & training - not just IT skills but deeper understanding and analysis
* Quantifying nurses "gut feeling"
* ECDL & the propsoed additional "health specific" module
* Numeracy skills & patient saftey/reduction in medication errors
* GP domination & nurses involvemenet in software development and implementation
* Care pathways & multidisciplinary care
* Analytical skills eg Watrelow scores rather than assessment principles & practice
* Examples of the Scottish approach
* The need to clearly define nursing art & science
* A telling question asked whether it is now too late in the process for nursing involvement.

The final comments were about mecahnisms for involving nurses from a variety of backgrounds in C4H projects were discussed including a suggestion from Stuart Glendinning Hall of running a blog - but it was suggested many nurses would not be able to access this. Information will also be collected from pilot sites/early implementers about nursing involvement & the effect on nursing practice. The possibility of story lines in Holby City & other soaps was also raised and is being followed up.

Barbara & Susan are willing to act as conduits and will make their email addresses available, on the NHS Connecting for Health Connecting with Nurses page.

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