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ROLE MODEL

You mean the Twitter nurse?

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A self-professed nurse geek, Anne Cooper has influenced many important advances in NHS technology

anne cooper

anne cooper

Follow Anne Cooper on Twitter and you will know she has Type 1 diabetes, owns a ginger Tom, likes baking and rescued an ex-battery hen and a duck. In fact, mention her name – her real name, not her Twitter handle – and tweeting is what most people will know her for. “Oh, you mean @anniecoops?” people say.

What you might not discover so easily from these 140-character teasers is that she is responsible for the professional leadership of the Nursing Technology Fund, which put £65m to spend on technology in the hands of nurses. And she is one of the best connectors I know. I say “connector” not “networker”, as that feels a bit soft – like chatting over canapés and wine – which can be important but what Ms Cooper does is much more. She joins people up, sees the gaps and highlights how to change what people do in order to fill them. An example would be her work for NHS Change Day on the menopause, collaborating with a group of women who all had stories to tell.

“For me now, it’s not about having a big national role. It’s about making a difference to practice, and I think it’s time for me to take what I’ve learnt in my roles and embed them in care.”

She had a high-profile national role in NHS England and returned to work at the Health and Social Care Information Centre in 2015. For a self-professed nurse geek, this was heaven. A job focusing on technology and data that gave her the remit to lead in ways she thought would inform and improve nursing practice. As a national provider of information systems and data to the health and care sectors, HSCIC has the potential to change things for the better, says Ms Cooper.

And this is where her connections come into play. She visits providers to support and develop the careers of nurses responsible for informatics and using technology. She’s showcased projects to demonstrate the impact of this work and has been a pioneer in helping the most senior nursing and NHS figures understand the opportunities that data and technology offers. She’s spoken at around 50 conferences in the past three years – especially about using social media for professional practice and connecting with patients and citizens.

But arguably her greatest achievement has been the introduction of the Nursing Technology Fund, which she set up with Paul Rice – head of technology strategy for digital technology patients and information – while working in her leadership role at NHS England.

They championed the liberation of government funds to support nurses, midwives and health visitors and make better use of digital technology in all care settings. Allocated to providers who were able to demonstrate how they could use technology to deliver safer, high-quality care, the fund attracted hundreds of applications, and £65m has been spent on these projects since 2013. The projects include digitally enabled observations management, mobile access to digital care records across the community and real-time digital nursing.

But soon the national leader will turn local champion, when she goes on secondment to Locala Community Partnerships, a community interest company providing care to people in Kirklees and beyond. “They do really innovative things, such as get school nurses to deliver talks to schools over a video link. It’s stuff the rest of the business world is doing, but we need to do more of here. It’s time we changed and I want to help do that,” says Ms Cooper.

“For me now, it’s not about having a big national role. It’s about making a difference to practice, and I think it’s time for me to take what I’ve learnt in my roles and embed them in care.”

Jenni Middleton

 

 

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