A survey of nurses, midwives and health visitors undertaken by the Royal College of Nursing has shown that not enough nursing staff have access to information, computer training and the internet when they need to at work.

Although 15% of nurses said they had no access to computers and 17% said they had no access to the internet, these figures rose to 38% and 44% respectively to nurses employed in the independent and community sector.

One particular problem highlighted by the survey was that nurses often do not have access to the internet during their time to study. The problem was particularly serious in Northern Ireland and Wales.

However, many nurses still felt that the internet had a place in their work; 58% of nurses said that they would like to have a list of websites that would be useful to them in their fields of practices, whereas 46% said that they would appreciate receiving e-mail newsletters about their subject areas.

Nearly a third of respondents said that they felt they would benefit from general training in computer skills, rising to 74% agreeing that coaching in advanced information searching in both libraries and on the internet would be helpful to their work.

According to the RCN, employers’ attitudes towards nurses using the internet are crucial, and that nurses researching the internet for information should never be seen as avoiding work in any way.

Speaking to E-Health Insider before the survey was carried out, Sharon Levy, informatics advisor at the RCN, said that nurses were a key part of implementing the National Programme for IT and that training and better access to systems were needed.

"If nurses are not confident and competent and if the right support is not there, then the discounts that the NPfIT has negotiated on the boxes on desks will be academic," said Levy.

Royal College of Nursing survey