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Nurses unsure over electronic patient record

Rebecca Thomson

NHS nurses are unsure whether the National Health Service can deliver an electronic patient record, according to a survey by the Royal College of Nursing.

It showed two-thirds of nurses welcome the introduction of an electronic record but most are uncertain about the effect it will have on patient care, safety and confidentiality.

The NHS' National Programme for IT aims to provide a single electronic patient record for each person in England.

Over half of the 2,600 nurses questioned said they do not believe or know whether the NHS can deliver it successfully.

The survey polled nurses on IT and showed two-thirds of them have not been consulted or involved in the new system's design or development.

RCN General Secretary Peter Carter said, "If electronic patient records are to be introduced in the right way with staff fully engaged and involved, the health service has to get to grips with this problem before it is too late."

The survey also found that 16% have to share a computer with more than 20 other people. Nearly half have to share with five others.

Carter added, "We cannot have a situation where nursing staff are waiting in line with 20 or more people for time on a computer to carry out essential documentation. Equally, we cannot have a system that is dependent on so few computers to facilitate care."

NHS IT in the spotlight >>

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