The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) is dramatically improving computer literacy in the NHS and saving staff time, a survey published by the NHSIA has revealed.

100% of users who described their skills as ‘basic’ or ‘very basic’ reported they felt much more confident with computers after taking the course. 48% of those users said that it saved them over half an hour per day.

ECDL service manager, Carol Hulm, says that the course has brought direct benefits to patients. “Staff say that better knowledge of IT had brought direct benefits to patients, such as improved direct medical staff support, better access to health guidance and protocols and improved record keeping."

Nurses had been among the least positive towards IT in the NHS; for instance, only 35% supported electronic patient record-keeping. After the ECDL, however, the approval rating shot up to 79%. It is estimated that improved IT skills have saved each nurse an average of 145 hours per year.

People of all levels who have taken the course are reporting improvements to their day-to-day workload. “I can now produce reports very quickly,” says Lindy Quin, from East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust. “For instance, yesterday I was asked for a list of who was due to do their basic life support – I ran this off in a minute."

“Most of my work involves working with clinicians to improve the patient journey. [Taking the ECDL] has helped me prepare, present and produce information that influences our decisions," says Kathryn Beattie, from Blackpool PCT.

Even Aidan Halligan, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and joint Director General of the NPfIT, is taking the course and finds it invaluable: “IT is absolutely vital for me to do my job now. The ECDL has been incredibly helpful. I’m now much more confident."

ECDL for the NHS in England was launched in March 2003. Over 60,000 NHS staff are currently studying for the qualification.

The NHSIA is running free seminars throughout England between June 8 and June 29 who want to learn more about the ECDL. These can be booked online at or by calling Laura Sharples at the NHSIA on 01962 814529.

The survey was compiled from responses from over 630 people who completed the NHS ECDL scheme.