Health Informatics Health Educators Conference

Building Partnerships in Health Informatics Education and Development

13th December 2001

University of Warwick

A personal review by Rod Ward

This conference was organised by the NHS Information Authority as a stakeholder conference supported by "Ways of Working with Information".

The declared aim was to "bring together representatives with a common interest in Health informatics Education and development, from Higher Education and Health Communities to:

There were approx 60 attendees, mostly from higher education institutions in England. The day was chaired by Di Millen Head of Health Informatics Development and Academic Relations for the NHS Information Authority.

The morning started with scene setting from the NHS perspective and was let by a presentation by Di Millen setting out why the NHSIA wanted us involved. She outlined current changes in the NHS and a target that all staff in the NHS, that wanted it, would have the provision of professional qualifications by 2005 and described the "Informatics Workforce" as doubling over the last decade.
Di also went on to advertise the NHSIA's Stakeholder link to get input into their work from a variety of levels in the NHS - you can sign up for this on the NHSIA web site.
She set out a vision around the development of the Electronic Health record (EHR), knowledge services and infrastructure, including the development of Health informatics as a recognised and respected national profession within the NHS.
She described issues around the development of capacity, capability and community and approaches from the IA to address these issues.
Di Millen
Diane Benjamin The second speaker was Diane Benjamin, Programme Manager - Ways of Working with Information.
She described the setting and implementation of Standards of Competence in Health Informatics under the headings of Policy, Progress and Challenges. She placed this in the context of the recent document "Working Together, Learning Together" (available from: which provides a framework for lifelong learning for the NHS and includes extensive use of e-learning, and touched on proposals for the NHS U.
She gave an overview of 2 Education, Training and Development (ETD) Programmes the European Computer Driving Licence (see and Learning to Manage Health information (available from : NB PDF format)
She went on to discuss professional awards in IM&T and encourage HEIs which meet the standards to apply for accreditation.
She also linked these developments to the information management agendas inherent in NSFs.
While the technology was sorted out for the next speaker !!! there was then time for a few questions and comments from the floor. Issues raised included the approach of the NHS to HE and funding issues.
The next speaker was Stephanie Wilson, Education Development and Training Manager for LIS Avon IM&T Consortium. She described the moves in the Avon and surrounding area to embed health informatics into the pre-registration curriculum for nurses, midwives and allied health professions. in conjunction with the University of the West of England, faculty of health and social care. (( Key issues included getting all "stakeholders" involved and discussing areas such as access to IT for students while in clinical areas. She identified benefits of collaborative approaches and described a "skills escalator" approach to the required skills development. Stephanie Wilson
Sharon Edser Sharon Edser, Regional IM&T training manager for the West Midlands then followed with a short and lively presentation of vignettes for the real world of the NHS under the title of "The confused customer : what I need."
We were then broken into small groups and asked to consider;
"What are the issues which we need to address to meet central and local requirements for Health informatics education and development."
Each group undertook a brainstorming exercise and then fed back 3 or 4 key issues to the wider conference. Access to IT in the NHS seemed to come top of almost every groups feedback.
Small group work
The afternoon session included presentations by representatives of 3 HE institutions. The first was Jeanette Murphy Senior Lecturer CHIME, UCL. She was asked to speak on "the traditional partnership between higher education and the NHS - but rejected the term traditional.
She argued for as proper balance between theoretical and pragmatic health informatics and factors which influence the development of a course, which include but are not solely, the requirements of partners such as the NHS.
She described the post graduate courses in HI in the UK and focused on those delivered by UCL.
Jeanette Murphy
Liz KingAndy Dingwall The second presentation was by Liz King Senior Lecturer, University of Derby and Andy Dingwall a nurse and current students on their Professional Certificate in IM&T programme. Liz described their course including how it had been developed, it's structure and the types of students coming on the course. Andy gave a students perspective as a mental health nurse and a realistic appraisal of views of health informatics amongst front lien clinical staff.
The final presentation of the day was by Professor Alan Gillies, Senior Lecturer, University of Central Lancashire who described how their PG Certificate academic award mapped to the professional certificate as an illustration of the meeting between universities and the NHS. Alan Gillies
Small group work
The final activity was another group exercise looking at what actions and ideas would enhance communication between the NHSIA and higher education locally and nationally, and a specific question arising from previous feedback - "Have we got pre-registration courses sorted?"  

General Comments and Thoughts.

There seemed to be general agreement that there was a need for a greater dialogue between the NHSIA and higher education although there were few concrete steps identified to achieve this.

Several questions came to mind during the day;

The day was a useful one for discussion and exploration of some of the issues - but we don't really seem to have moved on inn the last few years and the same questions are still being asked - and not being answered.

The power point presentations etc are available on the web site for the Ways of Working group at

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Page Created: 13.12.01

Last Updated: 15.2.02