The Royal College of Nursing has called for more nursing input into IT and more IT training for nurses after a survey uncovered a lack of confidence in clinical systems.

The survey of 1,000 RCN members found the majority of nurses had no influence on the way technology was used in their workplace.

Just under half (46%) said they had not been consulted at all about the introduction of IT systems and 54% said they had not been able to influence their use, even though 85% used a variety of systems on a daily basis.

In addition, the survey found that many nurses are still struggling to share PCs, instead of using more modern technology at the bedside.

A report on the survey says: “35% stated they had insufficient access to ICT equipment, or that the type of ICT tools they used were inadequate for their roles.”

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: “We would like to see nursing staff more involved in the implementation of e-health to ensure the focus of new technology is always on how it can improve care for patients.”

The RCN report – ‘Positioning nursing in a digital world’ – suggests that nurses should have influence on trust boards and clinical commissioning groups “to promote nursing input to service transformations facilitated by e-health.”

It suggests this would also “ensure that the nursing workforce is supported with appropriate ICT tools and systems, and competence in informatics.”

Around a fifth of the survey respondents said they had received no IT training for three years or more, with more than half of these saying this was down to a lack of ‘protected time’ for courses.

One respondent said that the training opportunities were very poor and that wards were too busy for IT training to be prioritised. Another said that because they had never received proper IT training: “I don’t feel comfortable and competent.”

The report also says that 63% of respondents working in NHS community services and 59% of those working in NHS hospitals reported that they have no IT support after 5pm.

As well as problems with involvement, training and equipment, the survey uncovered complaints about the accessibility of IT systems. Almost half of the survey respondents reported that it takes too long to log-on to multiple systems.

The report adds that although some nurses were positive about the benefits of e-health, “others expressed concerns about technical problems, training needs, increased workload, the potential detrimental impact on nursing care, e-health and the scope of ‘nursing’, and lack of leadership.”

“In conjunction with an identified lack of consultation and limited opportunities to influence ICT developments, these attitudes could result in users failing to engage fully with future projects,” it concludes.