Slow login times are one of the main technology frustrations NHS staff face, according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
NHS staff currently have to log into multiple computer programmes when tending to a patient, with each programme requiring its own login details, meaning some staff need to log into as many as 15 different systems.
This can be time-consuming, and also requires staff to remember multiple complex passwords or use the same one on multiple systems, which is potentially a cybersecurity risk.
Health bosses have pledged to invest £40 million in ‘frontline technology’, including multi-factor logins like fingerprint access, which they say will streamline the technology and free up thousands of NHS staff hours each day.
A spokesman for DHSC said Alder Hey in Liverpool has already implemented the changes and found they reduced login time from one minute 45 seconds to just 10 seconds. With almost 5,000 logins per day, it saved over 130 hours of staff time a day.
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘It is frankly ridiculous how much time our doctors and nurses waste logging on to multiple systems. As I visit hospitals and GP practices around the country, I’ve lost count of the number of times staff complain about this.
‘It’s no good in the 21st century having 20th-century technology at work. This investment is committed to driving forward the most basic frontline technology upgrades, so treatment can be delivered more effectively and we can keep pace with the growing demand on the NHS.’
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, welcomed the investment but said there is an ‘urgent need’ to upgrade antiquated hardware.
He said: ‘For doctors to have to take many minutes to log in multiple times across various platforms just to see a single patient’s notes wastes valuable clinician time. Time that could be spent actually treating patients, and so streamlining this process is a positive step.
However, the problem of multiple logins will not in itself address the overdue and urgent need to upgrade antiquated hardware and software in the NHS, as are delays in booting up these outdated systems and sluggish programmes that also waste staff time at the expense of patient care.
‘We need to see an absolute commitment to interoperability so that different systems communicate with one another effectively, and we need to see a clear action plan of how this will be achieved.
‘Clinicians must be able to see patients’ records, observations, results and background notes in real-time to improve safe patient care and avoid duplication and delays to care due to insufficient information.
‘This will require real investment in IT infrastructure above that in this announcement, and include funding for reliable broadband and the latest wireless technology nationwide.
‘It must cover all areas of the UK to ensure equity of care, and be across the NHS and social care, from hospitals to GP surgeries, where slow and clunky systems cause daily problems.
‘We will be looking in more detail at the government’s aspirations and we will work to influence their delivery to make a real difference to both staff and patients.’
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