ASSIST, the Association for ICT Professionals in Health and Social Care, has voted to seek partnership with the British Computer Society’s health informatics committee (BCSHIC).

An “overwhelming” majority of members at the association’s annual general meeting on 20 May gave the group’s national council a mandate to pursue discussions already underway.  The move will almost certainly result in ASSIST becoming a BCS specialist group.

ASSIST deputy chair, Ian White, who proposed the partnership motion told E-Health Insider that the association had an increasing membership and had become very professional under the leadership of chair, Tony Eardley. 

“It was clear we needed to develop ourselves as an association if we were to provide the support our members were expecting,” said White.

"I was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming support from members,” he said. “I think most members just saw it as the sensible way forward.”

ASSIST is a professional and educational association, not a union, so its activities are in line with the BCS’s.  Dr Glyn Hayes, chair of the BCSHIC, said he was extremely pleased by the vote.

When the partnership is agreed, ASSIST’s members will almost double the numbers represented by the BCSHIC. An improved level of political influence will be one of the aims of the expanded committee at organisational level.

Dr Hayes explained: “We can have a much better impact as a bigger organisation.”

“For the individual practitioner, there’s one combined organisation which can support them on at an individual career and professional level,” he added.

Andrew Haw, who took over as chair of ASSIST at the meeting, said: “I’m very pleased.  The combined strength of the two [organisations] exceeds the sum of the two halves.”

Haw, who is director of ICT and EPR at University Hospital Birmingham Trust, said he was very keen to use his time in office to pursue the goal of getting information and communications technology recognised as a profession in healthcare. He has worked in the NHS for nearly 13 years and previously held posts in the Department of Health, the Coal Board and Andersen Consulting.