British Computer Society president, Alastair MacDonald, told the conference that the IT industry should help form a body focussing on the professional needs of Healthcare IT. He said, "I want to see more like-minded organisations pooling their resources."
MacDonald believes that such a body could provide specialist training for healthcare professionals working in IT. "Some people want to see a Professional College model used whereas others would welcome an organisation of any type that would deliver certification," he said.
Independent health information consultant, Jean Roberts, said IT companies could play an important role by providing specialist knowledge to the NHS. "There are people working in the IT vendor community who have health experience," she said. "We need to build bridges and start dialogues with them."
NHS executives welcomed the proposal. Dr Anthony Nowlan of the NHS Information Authority said, "In keeping with other industries, skills shortage is one of the biggest corporate challenges that we face. We see this problem every day when we are tying to hire people."
Officials from the Department of Health think that an organisation providing combined IT and Healthcare qualifications could help tackle the industry's skills problems.
A spokesman said, "Somebody needs to gather all the courses together and let NHS IT professionals know what is out there. A new federation could do that."