New clinical representative groups to be established

  • 3 February 2005

A series of new clinical representative groups are to be established to provide a direct link for the first time between the Royal Colleges and various health professionals’ bodies and the NHS National programme for IT (NPfIT).

E-Health Insider can exclusively reveal that three new bodies will be established: a new medical informatics group will take in all the Royal Colleges covering doctors and the BMA; another for nursing and a third for allied health professionals.

It is anticipated that the three groups will work closely with the national programme’s Care Record Development Board, which was established in July 2004 replacing both Patient Advisory Board and National Clinical Advisory Board. Limited communications with clinicians has been a widespread about NPfIT, and was a problem highlighted in January’s National Audit Office report on Patient Choice.

Details of the plans to create the new groups were provided to E-Health Insider by Dr Gillian Braunold, NPfIT GP Clinical Lead and member of the BMA’s General Practitioner Committee. She told EHI that the NPfIT Implementation Board had agreed funding for three groups, “one for doctors, one for nurses and one for all the allied health professionals".

The intention is that the new groups will be to provide more direct links between the Royal Colleges and other health professional bodies and the national programme. “The quid pro quo is that they can’t just send people and have accountability back to their colleges. Their representatives have to bring information back, and that will be the interface between the colleges and the national programme," said Dr Braunold.

“We will then also use that resource if we need clinicians to comment on something in particular. It will provide a professional route."

The NPfIT GP clinical lead said that she’d like to expand the allied professionals group, to include “optics, dentistry and pharmacy” for the first time. “They need to be included and represented." Funding for the groups has now been built into the Implementation Board’s annual budget for the next three years.

Initial terms of reference and structure of the new groups have already been drafted, chairs will now be sought and invitations will be issued to the Colleges shortly. “I would hope this will all happen in the next few weeks," said Dr Braunold.

The new groups will be the successors to the old Medical Information Group, the Acadamies of the Colleges Information Group (representing the Royal Colleges) and the Nursing Professionals’ Information Group (NPIG) and the Information Group for Allied Health Professionals.

These groups had been funded by the NHS Information Authority (NHSIA), but with the NHSIA now being wound down their funding has either ended or been lost. NPIG met for the last time last week.

Dr Braunold explained that the old groups, though linked to the old NHSIA and Information Policy Unit, had not had any direct links to the national programme. A key role for the three new groups will be to provide these links.

It is hoped that the new body will be UK wide with invitations being extended to professional bodies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as England.

“Those bodies will be invited if they want to join in and integrate with the programme," Dr Braunold added.

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