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Nurses lose confidence in NHS IT programme

Nurses are increasing doubtful of the benefits of the NHS's £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT) and do not believe they have been  adequately consulted about it, a major survey shows.

The findings echo concerns expressed by doctors that their views have not been sufficiently taken into account.

The Royal College of Nursing poll of nearly 4,500 nurses is the largest ever survey of nurses' attitudes to IT. It found that just 40% of nurses felt current IT developments were a good use of NHS money – fewer than the 43% who disagreed.

The level of dissatisfaction has more than doubled since last year when only 21% of nurses disagreed and is nearly four times higher than the 2004 figure of 11%.

A majority of nurses – 56% – still felt the IT developments would improve patient care. But that figure too has fallen, from 70% in 2004.

The survey found that only 12% felt they had been adequately consulted about the NHS's IT plans. It also highlighted a  lack of IT training for nurses.

While 95% of respondents thought nurse training was central to the success of the proposed electronic patient health record – a core part of NPfIT – nearly seven out of 10 nurses said they had received no IT training.

Royal College of Nursing general secretary Beverly Malone said, "Nurses will be by far the largest group of health professionals using NHS IT systems, yet they are hardly being consulted or informed about developments. We know from experience that if frontline staff are not involved in change, it fails."

 

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