General practice nurses to train as ‘digital champions’

Training courses announced at NHS Expo will see 80 nurses upgrade their tech skills
Someone looking at a healthcare app on a smartphone

Training courses announced at NHS Expo will see 80 nurses upgrade their tech skills

Picture: iStock

General practice nurses will be given training to become more digitally literate and understand smartphone healthcare apps as part of NHS innovation plans.

GP Ruth Chambers told NHS Expo in Manchester on Thursday that around 80 nurses will attend digital nurse champion courses run by NHS England next month. Dr Chambers sits on the delivery team for the training courses.

Pilot cohort

This follows a pilot scheme in Staffordshire, with 40 nurses being trained. Some nurses from the pilot are now developing their own apps alongside GPs.

Dr Chambers said: ‘Some nurses on the pilot cohort went from digitally hapless to digitally leading.’

Four regional delivery boards will choose one Sustainability and Transformation Partnership each in their area to identify two groups of ten general practice nurses for the first round of courses, providing a total number of 80 candidates.

Training course

First, the chosen nurses will compile an action plan on what they hope to learn from the training, and then attend two two-hour long evening lessons, spread over two months.

They will receive guidance during these sessions and then build on their learning with at least 11 hours of self-learning time – with access to further guidance via Skype.

Each nurse will receive £300 for attending, a tablet and a year’s Wi-Fi access.

Dr Chambers said: ‘We provide the funding to show them that giving up their own time is not taken for granted.’

App library

Nurses will also be encouraged to understand and disseminate apps such as the Rafi-Tone app to assist young children with using an inhaler for asthma.

The plans come as health and social care secretary Matt Hancock this week set out plans for a new NHS app to book appointments and order repeat prescriptions.

NHS Digital has been building a library of approved apps and has begun embedding them into the NHS Choices website.

NHS Digital programme director for apps and wearables Hazel Jones told Nursing Standard the organisation is working with iTunes and Google to create a special category of NHS-approved healthcare apps.

Meanwhile, NHS England will also begin a pilot in Wolverhampton, Bexley and Blackburn in October to enable digital supervision for general practice nurses.

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