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New research has revealed the potential risk to NHS trusts if hospital staff continue to shun communication solutions and don’t receive the necessary training.
According to a new Freedom of Information request conducted by StarLeaf, despite 80 per cent of NHS trusts implementing video conferencing technology, 56 per cent don’t have training programmes in place to ensure staff are using these systems correctly.
Support for the N3 network for health and care organisations, with its integrated video conferencing add-on, will end this year, and NHS trusts will transition to the Health and Social Care Network, which does not have a built-in video or collaboration platform.
StarLeaf sent the FoI request to 80 trusts across the country to discover the main tools staff are using to communicate and understand the key challenges facing Trusts when enabling staff collaboration. It found that 74 per cent of trusts use video conferencing as one of their primary means of communication, and 48 per cent are planning to introduce virtual consultations or appointments via video in the near future.
The research also found that where video conference systems are overly complex, it hampers communication amongst staff, with the risk of staff shunning approved applications and turning to shadow IT services, such as WhatsApp, to communicate and share information. This could have a serious impact on the security and privacy of patient data across the NHS.
Mark Loney, CTO at StarLeaf, said: “Effective communication should be the backbone for any trust but the evidence we’ve seen suggests that when faced with cumbersome video conferencing equipment and limited training, it’s easy for people to turn to familiar tools such as WhatsApp. This puts trusts at the risk of security breaches. NHS staff perform an incredibly important role. They don’t want to be hindered by complex, difficult to use communications technology. It’s important they can communicate, collaborate and share, with a video conferencing solution that’s intuitively simple, as well as reliable and secure.”
Mid Cheshire NHS Trust’s ageing IT estate was causing significant problems. Amy Freeman, the Trust’s Associate Director of IT, identified a number of challenges that needed to be addressed when she joined the organisation in 2016.