Health visitors believe they are not getting enough IT training on their local electronic patient record systems, according to a union survey.

A poll of 530 health visitors and school nurses conducted by Unite/Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association found that 310 had access to local electronic patient record and 92% of those had received training on the system.

However, 41% reported that training was “insufficient” and 61% said the training had not been carried out close enough to when they had to use the system in their daily working lives.

Unite said the survey had investigated training because problems had been raised repeatedly by members. Some reported that they were often expected to use complicated systems with gaps between training and implementation.

The union’s Health Informatics Advisory Group said it continued to lobby for training to be delieverd close to ‘go-live’ dates.

Dave Munday, Unite professional officer, said the figures also showed that only 54% had been involved in the development, design or local implementation of the clinical systems they were using.

“There is obviously a case for better implementation planning in this area,” he added.

The survey showed there had been an improvement in the number of health visitors expected to share a computer since the last survey was conducted three years ago.

In 2006, two-thirds reported having to share a computer with colleagues, with the average number of colleagues that they shared with being five.

In 2009, 42% reported that they have their ‘own’ computer. Of those who had to share, 12% did this with one colleague and 47% with more than one.

Unite also asked its members how long it took to access a shared computer – 22% reported having to wait five minutes, 15% about 15 minutes, 11% about 30 minutes, 3% about 45 minutes and 7% more than an hour.

The Making IT Happen survey also found a massive improvement in access to computer systems for health visitors since the survey was first run in 2001.

At that stage, 66% of community practitioners said they did not have access to the internet and 65% had no email access. The latest survey shows that 99% of respondents now have access to a desktop computer and 95% have access to the internet at work.

Munday added: “In 2001 community practitioners including health visitors and school nurses were on the margins of the internet age – now they are centre stage. The improvement in terms of access has been huge but there are still areas of concern.”

The 2001 survey had found that seven out of 10 health visitors and school nurses believed they would “significantly” improve their service to patients if they had full access to the NHS health informatics revolution.

The survey also asked respondents in England about the children’s database ContactPoint.

Out of 448 health visitors and school nurses, 59% knew about ContactPoint and 34 had access to it in early implementer sites. Of these, 24% had received some form of training about the new system. From those who knew about the system, 57 felt they could explain its benefits to parents.