News

NHS saves staff time by pushing European computer driving licence qualification

John Kavanagh

Health service sets up online training facility for end-users.

An online IT skills training and testing facility is being set up by the National Health Service to help its 700,000 staff gain the European computer driving licence qualification.

The value of the qualification, which is managed in the UK by the BCS, has been demonstrated by a pilot project at an NHS trust in Manchester. It found that staff who achieve the qualification save an average of 38 minutes a day because they are not struggling with IT.

"That is 38 minutes per person per day that they are not with their PC and 38 minutes more they are spending with patients," said NHS manager Lavinia Wilkinson.

More than 95% of the Manchester users who have completed the European computer driving licence said they now rarely need to call on IT support, compared to 71% who did so regularly before achieving the standard.

A new NHS ECDL portal will include training materials; assessments and tests to help users evaluate their progress; accredited online tests, facilities for combining online study and practice with classroom training; and monitoring tools for tracking the progress of staff working for the qualification, with reporting at individual, group, health authority and NHS levels.

"The use of web-based e-learning through a single portal means NHS staff can choose to learn at work, in formal training departments, from home or from any PC connected to the internet," said Pete Bayley, BCS director for the European computer driving licence.

"Individuals can learn at their own pace and at times that are convenient for them. And they don't have to wait until the end of the term or year before they can attempt the formal assessment for qualification."

George Davies, manager of the European computer driving licence project in Manchester, said, "This standard is about everyone from porter to chief executive, from receptionist to GP: it is about everybody having this standard set of skills.

"It is not about IT or IT people: it is about supporting clinical practice, it is about making it easier for people to do their job and to actually spend more time with patients and less time with the technology."

As well the online facility, the NHS has 280 learning centres, 200 of which are accredited to run the formal tests. More than 12,000 users have registered with the online service in the pre-launch period and 3,000 staff have already achieved the qualification.

Details of NHS ECDL training are at www.ecdl.nhs.uk.

What is the ECDL?

More than 600,000 people have registered for the European computer driving licence end-user qualification since the BCS launched it in the UK five years ago. The UK now has the biggest take-up of the qualification among all the countries offering it.

There are nine modules:

  • IT concepts

  • Using a computer and managing files

  • Word processing

  • Spreadsheets

  • Databases

  • Presentation graphics

  • Communication

  • Advanced word processing

  • Advanced spreadsheets.

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