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The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is campaigning to ensure that nurses across the NHS have the tools, skills and resources to make the most of new technology.



 In August, the RCN's 'Every nurse an e-nurse' campaign received a significant boost with endorsement and support from NHS Digital. Formerly known as the Health and Social Care Information Centre, NHS Digital was formed by the Department of Health to improve health and social care in England by encouraging better use of technology, data and information sharing. Managing over £1 billion of health funding, it has an operational budget of £250 million and a staff of 2,500.

The 'Every nurse an e-nurse' is a natural progression from Leading Change, Adding Value, the NHS framework for nursing and midwifery staff, published in May 2016. One of the 10 key commitments in the framework is to 'champion the use of technology and informatics to improve practice, address unwarranted variations and enhance outcomes'.
 

"Digital technology has a key role in improving delivery of care, health outcomes and efficiency," said Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England. "And there is a real opportunity for all nursing, midwifery and care staff to take a lead on its development and use where they work."

 

It's not just about giving nurses the skills and knowledge to use new digital technology effectively in their practice. The technology itself can be a facilitator of continuing professional development for health professionals, including hospital nurses and community nurses, providing easier access to specialist training. For example, Health Education England's e-learning for Healthcare website features a range of online training programmes focusing on everything from asthma management to safeguarding children and young people.

Improving Digital Literacy is a joint publication by Health Education England and the RCN. It identifies six key capabilities that fit someone for working, living, learning, participating and thriving in a digital society:

Digital identity, wellbeing, safety and security
Communication, collaboration and participation
Teaching, learning and personal/professional development
Technical proficiency
Information, data and media literacies
Creation, innovation and scholarship.

The RCN believes that acquiring these digital capabilities will help nursing staff identify their professional development needs, inform revalidation and support development of the nursing workforce, as well as helping inform local and national digital health strategies.

"We are living through a technological revolution and digitalisation is developing at an incredible speed," commented RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, Janet Davies. "It is time to grasp this opportunity as the nursing and midwifery workforce is crucial to the successful outcome of this revolution."



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