Leaked NHSE review warns of ‘severe shortage’ of digital nurses

  • 24 June 2024
Leaked NHSE review warns of ‘severe shortage’ of digital nurses

A leaked NHS England report, has warned of a “severe shortage” of digital nurse specialists, which could hinder ambition to drive the healthcare system forward with technology.

Nursing Times reported that it has seen the delayed Phillips Ives Review, which was due to be published in 2023 following its launch in 2022.

The review, which set out to explore the digital readiness of nurses and midwives, calls for  greater investment in the digital specialist workforce and more digital training.

According to the Nursing Times, the review found that there was a “severe shortage of digital nurse and midwifery specialists to deliver the digital future”.

The review included extensive consultation with nurses and midwives in the UK, taking into account their experiences and opinions.

It found that new skills and competencies are needed to keep pace with technological developments in healthcare, including genomics, artificial intelligence and data science.

Also it concluded that the roles and functions of the nursing and midwifery position  would need to evolve over the next 20 years to help realise the benefits of tech advancements.

It says that existing models of nursing and midwifery education are “not generally designed to develop and maintain digital literacy” and some education providers “offered no digital health and care learning opportunities”, Nursing Times reports.

This has led the review to suggest reforms for nursing education, so that it can support a digitally-enabled workforce.

The report concludes that there is no global understanding of the role of the a specialist digital nurse or digital midwife, which could be impacting the level of seniority the role can reach and the rate of pay, as well as affecting recruitment and retention in the specialism.

NHS England had not responded to Digital Health News‘ request for comment at the time of publication.

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  • NHS England recently advised nurses like me who were working within the Transformation Directorate that they had no future jobs for us and so we let go. It is disappointing to hear there is a national shortage of Digital Nurses when there is interest to develop skills in digital nursing amongst many nurses working across different clinical settings. The absence of any formalised training does not help. I am now funding myself to complete ITIL Foundation whilst I try to find a suitable role to further my digital skills. Meanwhile, although NHS Digital does have a well established Clinical Informatics Team staffed with nurses and other clinicians, it has become a team of elites and despite many applications, one is not even afforded an interview. Such is our wonderful NHS.

  • As a Digital Nurse myself I agree with the report findings, there is no standardization of grading for the Digital Nurses, in our team the majority of the Digital Nurses are Band fives, in other trusts they are six or sevens. We try to have input with the local university through our Practice Placement Nurse team to introduce the Digital Systems from their induction, and have introduced training resources for students and new starters to try and improve the Digital Literacy within our trust.
    More recognition of the role Digital Nurses play within the NHS would be of great benefit to all trusts and staff.


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