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DH to invest ?140 million in IT for nurses plus leadership training

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A fund of £100 million has been set aside by ministers to enable nurses to 'improve care and beat bureaucracy' by investing in technology that frees up their time.

Announcing the investment at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham earlier this month, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said nurses, whether based in acute or community settings, would be free to choose the kit that is suitable for their workplace.

This could include digital pens and handheld mobile devices that allow community nurses to access patient records remotely and to upload information while out on visits.

The NHS will be loaned the money to fund these technologies and will be required to repay a percentage, though organisations that receive positive feedback from patients in the Friends and Family test will not have to repay anything.

However, the test only applies to staff working in acute settings. As Independent Nurse was going to press, the DH was unable to confirm how primary care nurses would be able to reclaim money.

Prime minister David Cameron said:'We're introducing one of the most simple tests that any caring organisation can have. We're asking staff and patients if they would be happy to recommend the hospital they're in to their friends and family. It's called the Friends and Family test and the results show, in a very human way how a hospital is performing: not just how their budget's looking; but how people feel being there.'

RCN head of policy Howard Catton, said: 'We have been lobbying for new technology, but I don't think the link between the loan and friends and family tests is appropriate. Money for technology should not be dependent on how well an organisation performs. The organisations scoring poorly are the ones that should have more money to help.

'It's not clear about community services, but community nurses need mobile devices for checking patient files,' he added. 'The details will, as ever, be important.'

An additional £40 million will be made available for leadership training to develop the skills of future nurse leaders.

Up to 1,000 nurses and midwives will receive this training this year, rising to 10,000 nurses and midwives over the next two years.

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