New IT roles for physios could be opened by proposals for a fully digitised NHS

Physiotherapists could train as digital leaders under recommendations in a landmark report on harnessing IT to improve NHS care in England.

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Sarah Judge: ‘Physiotherapists should not be afraid to go for these training opportunities.’

Making IT Work, an independent report published by the Department of Health on 7 September, calls for a major effort to place well-qualified clinicians with advanced informatics training in every trust.

It estimates that an average-sized trust needs at least five such individuals on its staff, led by a chief clinical information officer.

The NHS needs to train national leaders in informatics, it says. Creating several slots each year for people with an interest in clinical informatics would be an ‘excellent investment’.

£42 million – just one per cent of the £4.2 billion to be spent on digitising the NHS – should be used to support workforce development and training.

The report sets out timelines to achieve its recommendations. By the end of next year, the health service should have established a programme to rapidly train healthcare informaticians in executive leadership and informatics, the document says.

The first few classes in this intensive 6-12 month training programme should focus on training individuals who will work at trusts with appropriate ‘digital maturity’.

And NHS England should have started a workforce plan designed to grow other segments of IT-related workforce, including clinician informaticians, again by December 2017.

All health professionals, including physios, should receive foundational training in informatics, it says, as well as in the integration of digital tools into their practices. This type of training should begin early in their professional education.

Sarah Judge, a specialist physiotherapist and AHP lead for West Suffolk NHS Trust’s e-health record project, welcomed the recommendations. She said: ‘Physiotherapists should not be afraid to go for these training opportunities.’

‘They should use their existing IT skills, but take up the chance to enhance these wherever possible.'

Ms Judge’s role in the development of West Suffolk’s e-care programme will feature in a future issue of Frontline.

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by Gill Hitchcock

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