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Online assessment in numeracy set to improve patient safety

The vast majority of non medical prescribers who have used an online numeracy assessment tool believe it will help to improve patient safety.

An online questionnaire on the NHS North West SHA Online Numeracy Assessment Tool found 87% of users thought it would help to improve patient safety, and 92% of non medical prescribing leads would like to see it used more widely.

The online assessment tool screens potential non medical prescribing students as part of a standard, regionally developed application process, and ensures they are numerate on entering a non medical prescribing programme. It also reduces the risk of failing the course due to poor numeracy and the risk of a calculation error by a qualified non medical prescriber.

Paul Warburton, senior lecturer at Edge Hill University, said despite the fact that the ability to make accurate calculations is an essential skill for all healthcare professionals to ensure patient safety, it is possible to attain a senior clinical role without ever taking a numeracy assessment. 

Mr Warburton, who presented the evaluation at the NHS North West conference last week, added that many studies show nurses lack confidence and skills in numeracy.

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