Nurses told to ‘insist PCTs use IT budgets’

Nurses should demand ‘shopping lists’ of the IT equipment needed for their jobs, according to experts at Connecting for Health (CfH).

Nurses should issue a shopping list of kit
Nurses should issue a shopping list of kit
At a CfH nursing conference held in London this month, nurses from Portsmouth asked how they could obtain the new computers and software offered under CfH, and how it was funded.

Ian Cowles, CfH group programme director, said that although CfH provides the software programmes for schemes such as Choose and Book, PCTs are required to spend 4 per cent of their budgets on purchasing up-to-date computers and IT hardware for their staff.

However, he admitted many PCTs had used the money on deficits and were now claiming no responsibility.

Simon Eccles, CfH clinical lead for hospital doctors, said that PCTs will continue to evade their IT responsibilities unless staff issue demands and show proof of how patient care would be improved.

'There also seems to be a complete planning blight when it comes to computers,' he added. 'Most PCTs can get free upgrades, but they just haven't been bothered to do it. IT is part of providing care, not an add-on.'

Susan Osborne, joint clinical lead for nursing, said all nurses should issue a ‘shopping list' of the kit they need to do their job, ‘down to the last mobile phone and laptop.'

'If we want to get anywhere with this we have to be difficult,' she said.

Mr Cowles also said that many PCTs and clinical staff seemed to think that on a given day CfH would arrive with all the new computers and software for the programmes and plug them in.

'It's not like that - it's a gradual process. As the PCT and GP surgeries get the right equipment, the new software can be loaded,' he explained.

He also pointed out that many PCTs seemed to be only implementing the software relating to patient administration and not the software that helped clinicians, such as ordering and checking pathology tests and X-rays online.

Chief nursing officer Professor Chris Beasley said strategic health authorities now had responsibility for implementing the national programme for IT and should be the first point of call for nurses' queries.

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