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Cameron outlines £140m investment in technology for nurses

The government is to spend £140m technology and leadership training for nurses and midwives in order to “improve care and beat bureaucracy”.

The prime minister and new health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the funding plans on Saturday, ahead of the start of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham. The money will be linked to good performance by trusts in the government’s new patient feedback drive.

The government said £100m would be offered to the NHS for nurses and midwives to spend on new technology intended to “free up time for patient care and help make essential patient details instantly available on the ward, at the bedside or in the community”.

Technology highlighted by David Cameron and Mr Hunt included digital pens and other handheld mobile devices intended to speed up access to patient and treatment information, while reducing time spent on form filling.

Nurses and midwives will decide “what kit is best for their own workplace”, the government said.

Under the plans, the government will loan the technology funding to the NHS but trusts will only be required to repay a percentage.

However, trusts and organisations that receive positive feedback from patients in the new “friends and family test” will not have to repay any of the loan.

The test, which comes into effect across England from April, will see trusts rated on whether patients would recommend a service to their friends or family, based on their treatment.

An additional £40m will also be made available for extra leadership training for the “next generation” of nursing and midwifery leaders, the government said.

Up to 1,000 nurses and midwives will get this training and support this year, rising to 10,000 over the next two years. This training will also be available to nurses and leaders working in the care sector, the announcement said.

Mr Hunt said: “Most nurses and midwives chose their profession because they wanted to spend time caring for patients, not filling out paperwork. New technology can make that happen.

“That’s better for nurses and patients too, who will get swifter information and more face-to-face time with NHS staff.”

Referring to a report encouraging the use of ward rounds from the royal colleges of nursing and physicians last week, Mr Hunt added:  “The importance of these issues was laid bare by doctors’ and nursing leaders earlier this week. The government’s role is to listen to the NHS and support these leaders – that’s what we’re doing today.”

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron said: “Too often nurses have been met with a barrage of bureaucracy – the boxes have been ticked and the quotas have been met.

“My mission with the NHS is to change that. We need to focus relentlessly on improving the care people get, and we’re taking some big, practical steps to achieve that.”

In response, Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “We welcome any money if it genuinely reaches frontline midwives and which would enhance their skills, services and professional development and improve the quality of maternity care for mothers and babies.”

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter welcomed the funding for leadership training, which will be distributed through the NHS Leadership Academy.

He said: “The RCN is fully supportive of this initiative. From ward sisters and community matrons to directors of nursing, we know that effective leadership can make a big difference to patient care.

“However, there has been a lack of investment in leadership training in recent times and we therefore welcome this programme by the NHS Leadership Academy. We look forward to seeing further details and working with the academy to take this project forward.”

Readers' comments (14)

  • Anonymous

    'Nurses and midwives will decide “what kit is best for their own workplace”, the government said.'

    Now, speeding up form-filling, and reducing unnecessary tick-box form-completion: good ideas. But there is a fundamental problem with anything that involves 'IT' and 'big 'goverment' organisations'. If someone picks the kit at a national level, you seem to get the wrong hardware and software that does not work - it you leave the 'picking' to local organisations, you seem to get systems that work within an organisation, but soon discover that one group cannot talk to another, because their kit/systems do not talk to each other properly.

    But at least this bit is right:

    'We need to focus relentlessly on improving the care people get'

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  • What a load of crap. This money is a FRACTION of what they have stolen from our pension funds, what they have saved from the closure of wards and the scrapping of posts. It is a FRACTION of what they have saved by cutting nurses wages year after year, and they think by throwing this tiny bone to the NHS the public will suddenly forget that they are decimating it before they move private companies in wholesale and they will appear like the good guys for appearing to fund the NHS.

    The problem is, they are probably right. There are a lot of stupid people out there.

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  • michael stone

    mike | 8-Oct-2012 3:09 pm

    All true, and all off-topic regarding whether this 'little bit of spending' would work. It probably won't - it involves IT, so as Dim says, it will probably be pretty-much a screw up.

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  • Ah yes DH I did forget to mention the good old IT instead of more staff idea. It's a screw up before it is implemented.

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  • Never mind about about more bl--dy technology, lets have more nurses on the wards caring for the patients and a decent living wage for doing it.

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  • We are greatly encouraged to hear that the Prime Minister and Health Secretary have set out plans to invest an additional £140 million in modernising NHS processes, so that nurses and midwives can embrace emerging technologies. This will enable them to spend more time with patients and provide safer care, whilst reducing paperwork. This investment will ensure that NHS Trusts throughout the UK will be able to benefit from our digital pen and paper technology in the same way that some of the more progressive Trusts we have worked with to date have. Not only can new technology put the power back in the hands of nurses and midwives, and enable a swifter, more comprehensive understanding of a patient’s care and conditions. The reduction in the time spent on form filling and bureaucracy can generate significant cost reductions, which means a return on investment in a matter of months.
    - Stein Revelsby, CEO of Anoto Group AB

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  • I have worked as a prison nurse where we used more IT than on the wards.
    The IT brought on a new set of problems for the nurses, not that they did not know how to use it, but it was programmed by people who did not take all in consideration. We believed the programs were done without consultations with all in a mulitidisaplinary team.
    Mr Prime Minister technology is good but for success especially in the NHS, it must be perfect or as near as. However, nothing can advance good care as adequate staff, good management, with Senior Nurses taking a major role in supervising ( by this I don't mean pointing out jobs to do) but ensuring good and safe care is undertaken, with teaching and guiding, not sitting away from the real action doing paper work.
    Create jobs for ward clerks not only to work early shifts, but to work full days doing some of the paper work that the senior sisters do.
    What we most need is Good nursing management and more staff before any thingh else.
    Please don't just listen to the IT man who wants the contract. I am a nurse and we have brains too.

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  • Does this wonder box wash patients, make beds, do the obs, dish out the pills, save any lives?

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  • Florence

    Our Trust could do with the cash to upgrade out exsisting IT equipment!!!
    Our computers are continually '' crash'' and our IT Dept is understaffed.
    Our results reporter system for bloods ect crashes at least every 2-3 weeks.
    And our Patient Administration system, we use Sema-Helix, was down for 3 days last week!!
    Our vital -pac , system for recording vital signs , VTE Status, bloods ect. Is very slow to access too.
    Modern technology has improved care, record keeping and quickend communications.
    However we have old and poorly maintained systems.
    I work in a district general hospital in a rural area. Our computers dont '' talk to '' our local primary care computer systems. That is our Doctors surgeries !!!
    Lets get the basics right before we spend money on further technologies that will ultimatley cost us money too.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 9-Oct-2012 6:39 pm

    Florence | 9-Oct-2012 9:47 pm

    'The IT brought on a new set of problems for the nurses, not that they did not know how to use it, but it was programmed by people who did not take all in consideration. We believed the programs were done without consultations with all in a mulitidisaplinary team.'

    'I work in a district general hospital in a rural area. Our computers dont '' talk to '' our local primary care computer systems. That is our Doctors surgeries !!!'

    Exactly what Dim said in the first post - there are significant problems when you try to use IT across different organisations, etc. Not just for healthcare, but for everywhere.

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  • Plans afoot in my Trust to go to all electronic notes, great idea. Except the fact that it costs MILLIONS to implement, requires an increase in IT bods that you can complain to over the telephone that your piece of equipment needs to work NOW not on Monday morning ( try and get some 21 year old in some call centre to understand that the electronic prescribing needs to work because patients require life-sustaining medicines now, and it can't wait until Dave comes to work some time next week) and that, generally, Nurses and Doctors on the whole haven't done Pittman courses ( types he with two fingers).

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  • Also worth mentioning since NT hasn't is that this sparkly new money comes in the form of loans and performance related incentives. The RCN has made a response to this already.
    Not so much investment as market incentivisation

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  • As a Data Capture and Digital Pen Solution Provider we can provide you with a robust solution to enable capture of data in the field, provide lone working safety and enable accurate PbR recording. Please see www.developiq.com for more information and to view our case studies www.developiq.com/freeingtimetocare or call 01256 774400 and speak to one of our NHS specialists
    We also have direct links to DH so can assist with funding applications to get the best results for the £100M fund that will becme available from April 2013.

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  • is advertising permitted here? it just seem like taking advantage of the situation to market products but without getting involved in the discussion on the need for more nurses.

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