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Jane Bates: We can’t go digital without funding

Matt Hancock’s ambition to put technology at the heart of the NHS will require major investment

Matt Hancock’s ambition to put technology at the heart of the NHS will require major investment


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At her 36-week antenatal check up, a friend spent much of her visit trying to make sense of the new IT system the midwife was visibly struggling with.

She works in the NHS herself so understands the demands of the digital dream versus the reality of stressed staff and substandard equipment.  

Another friend, visiting her family doctor last week, sat despairing as her test results could not be obtained, and my mother had a similar experience at a different surgery only a few days ago. On these two occasions the electronic software had crashed, yet again.

Innovation and integration

Matt Hancock, our health and social care secretary, has put technology at the forefront of his plans for the NHS. There will be innovation and integration and data will be linked in and available throughout, from Little Missenden-in-the-Marsh to the mountains of the Moon.

But, as much of our equipment belongs in a museum, we need millions to update the hardware before we even start. If we don’t go back to basics, all the money spent on modernisation will be wasted.

There are also not enough computers. What’s the point in being the best in the world if nurses can’t find a functioning keyboard?

Locked out

Even clunkier than the machines themselves is the multiple-password system, which is as capricious as a fractious toddler. We are forever being locked out of vital online access, and then there is the flaky software. Don’t even go there. Actually, you often can’t because it is so unreliable.  

Last but not least, we will need an IT force of thousands to support and rescue front-line staff and – the innovation of them all – train them. Up the digital revolution!


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire

 

 

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