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Government invests £100m in bedside tech for NHS nurses

Cash for new technologies will be loaned to the NHS, but hospitals that pass the 'Friends and Family' test won't have to pay back the money

The Prime Minister and Health Secretary have set out plans to offer £100 million to the NHS for nurses and midwives to spend on new technology and reduce paperwork.

The aim of the investment is to free up time for patient care and help make essential patient details instantly available on the ward, at the bedside or in the community.

The new technology could include digital pens and other handheld mobile devices that allow staff to know the latest information about a patient's treatment whenever, wherever they are, and provide safer, quicker care, according to the Department of Health.

"Most nurses and midwives chose their profession because they wanted to spend time caring for patients, not filling out paperwork. New technology can make that happen," said Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

"That's better for nurses and patients too, who will get swifter information and more face-to-face time with NHS staff."

The news was welcomed by digital pen and paper specialist Anoto, which already works with several UK NHS Trusts to meet these goals.

"Not only can new technology put the power back in the hands of nurses and midwives, and enable a swifter, more comprehensive understanding of a patient's care and conditions," said Stein Revelsby, CEO of Anoto Group AB.

"The reduction in the time spent on form filling and bureaucracy, can generate significant cost reductions, which means a return on investment in a matter of months."

For example, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT) has been using Anoto Digital Pen and Paper technology since March 2010, and claims to have saved over £220,000 a year. Time spent on patient administration has also halved, with the time freed up equivalent to five full-time midwives.

"By having patient records safely stored by the Trust, mothers are reassured that if their physical records booklet is mislaid or becomes damaged, their midwife can just request a new printed version of the notes which would contain full details of the check-ups and care given," said Richard Sargent, ICT Change Control Specialist/Team Leader at PHT.

"Moreover, the records system chronologically orders every episode of care together with any notes that are taken in exactly the state that they were recorded, which is useful if a case of litigation was brought against the Trust."

The NHS will be loaned cash to fund these new technologies for nurses and midwives, but will only be required to repay a percentage of the loan, according to the Department of Health.

However, the Prime Minister has also launched a "Friends and Family test," whereby staff and patients will be asked if they would recommend the hospital they're in to their friends and family. Those organisations that receive positive feedback will not have to repay any of the loan.

"The results show in a very human way how a hospital is performing: not just how their budget's looking; but how people feel about being there," said David Cameron.

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