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NHS technology slow, outdated and unreliable, nurses tell survey

Patchy internet connection, poor IT support and non-user-friendly systems the top barriers to workplace efficiency, say respondents to Nursing Standard poll

Patchy internet connection, poor IT support and non-user-friendly systems the top barriers to workplace efficiency, say respondents to Nursing Standard poll

Nurses have described the NHS as in the ‘Stone Age’ when it comes to IT, with technology that’s often slow, outdated or unreliable.

Nearly a quarter of nurses (24%) who responded to a Nursing Standard survey said patchy internet connection was their biggest barrier when using technology at work, while 20% said outdated equipment made their job harder.

IT support lacking and some nurses still using paper charts for care plans

One respondent said: ‘Everything is old-fashioned. Working in the NHS is like being in the Stone Age.’ Another said it can take up to an hour to

Patchy internet connection, poor IT support and non-user-friendly systems the top barriers to workplace efficiency, say respondents to Nursing Standard poll

Picture: iStock

Nurses have described the NHS as in the ‘Stone Age’ when it comes to IT, with technology that’s often slow, outdated or unreliable.

Nearly a quarter of nurses (24%) who responded to a Nursing Standard survey said patchy internet connection was their biggest barrier when using technology at work, while 20% said outdated equipment made their job harder.

IT support lacking and some nurses still using paper charts for care plans

One respondent said: ‘Everything is old-fashioned. Working in the NHS is like being in the Stone Age.’ Another said it can take up to an hour to access their desktop at the start of a shift and that IT support is 'severely lacking’.

Of the 1,085 people who responded to the survey, 20% also said there was a shortage of equipment, such as laptops, tablets and desktop computers, and 15% said the need for multiple passwords was a bugbear, with one respondent saying it was ‘very inefficient’.

‘We’re still using paper charts for our medications and nursing care plans,’ one nurse said.

Another responded: ‘There are four computers in the nursing office and for the past four months two have not been working. The team have consistently been highlighting the problem.’

Technology not user-friendly or fit for purpose

One nurse commented on a lack of support for people not trained in using the systems: ‘I am 69. I see many of the advantages of IT but I have never been taught how to use it properly. I feel IT has put an enormous amount of admin/non-nursing tasks on to my role, which I dislike as that takes me away from giving direct care.’

Some said the technology they have to use isn’t ‘fit for purpose’ and seems like it has been designed without users in mind.

In the October budget the government announced £2.1 billion for improved IT across acute, community and mental health services in England. It is hoped the funding will free up staff time through improved digital security, faster broadband and digital patient records across all settings by 2024-25.

How Nursing Standard conducted the survey

  • We asked nurses to share information about their health and well-being at work
  • The questions were asked using online tool Survey Monkey and the survey ran from 8-15 November 2021
  • It was promoted via email to registered users of RCNi.com, in our online news and on social media
  • We received 1,230 responses and the initial findings were analysed by Nursing Standard staff. A total of 145 respondents skipped the question on barriers to technology


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