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Nurses 'frustrated' by lack of joined up data


Nurses and other clinicians need to change their mindset when it comes to the use of information, according to independent government advisors.

The NHS Future Forum was originally set up by the government to advise on changes to the health bill but was then given a second set of health areas to investigate. These were education and training; integrated health; information and the public’s health. Reports on its findings were published earlier this week.

It its report on information it has recommended more patient data to be shared between NHS organisations, as the current system leads to duplication of work and is a source of “frustration” for staff and patients.

National Voices chief executive Jeremy Taylor, who wrote the forum’s report on information in the NHS, called for a “change of mindset” in how the NHS uses information.

He told Nursing Times that clinical staff had a vital role in capturing accurate information about patients. But, he said, the forum had heard that a lack of joined up data caused “a lot of frustration” among nurses who had to repeatedly record the same information about patients at different stages in their treatment.

Joining up data across NHS organisations could make life easier for nurses and improve the quality of care, he said: “If you move to a system where you’ve got electronic systems which talk to each other, which can share the data… you start to get something that feels better for quality of care and hopefully is more rewarding for staff.”

Royal College of Nursing head of policy Howard Catton said nurses needed to “step up a gear” in their approach to information, but the change in culture needed to be more widespread across the NHS.

“There are already an awful lot of nurses who are leading on this”, he said.


Readers' comments (5)

  • The assumption here is that there are already joined-up electronic systems, but that's precisely where the biggest problem is. The existing electronic systems do not talk to each other and cannot share the data.

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  • Most trusts have linking of some systems but information has to requested and is often slow. We need a system so you can just enter an NHS number and see information about all of a patient's Primary and Acute care contact, health professionals don't have time for complicated processes. My understanding is this was the purpose of the single NHS IT system, which was scraped wasting over £4billion (the extra staff employed to deliver this are still employed!). If the information is available, nurses will use it. I don't see how it is relevant at all to nurse's attitudes. Unlike most problems in the NHS this is clearly an issue best solved by top-down management e.g. government and NHS boses agreeing to use existing companies software to link up the existing systems.

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  • I agree with Helga and Charile; the present systems do not talk to each other. There's also the big problem of control; only certain nurses have access to systems, often only one person in a department and when that person is off, then no-one has access making working very frustrating. Quite often it's only nurses who are 'willing' to use these computer systems to generate labels for pathology etc. Other disciplines don't see it as their job, that's something the nurses do!

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    There has been a continual problem with regard to multidisciplinary teams And i believe that the time has come to share information with regard to patient care with each and every member of all people providing care in our society. This should be a matter of course throughout all areas of care. I realise that there are issues with data protection but this should be over ridden by the complexity of the care required.

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  • Sandra Joyce Powell | 21-Jan-2012 2:29 pm

    no thanks.

    hands off my data!

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