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Health visitors and community nurses are using their own computers, e-mail and mobile phones to support their NHS work – and very rarely are they getting reimbursed by their employers.

A new survey by the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association reveals that, in effect, health visitors are subsidising the NHS, despite government pledges that all NHS clinical and support staff should have access at work to basic email, browsing and directory services.

And one reason that they are resorting to their own equipment is that while 80% of them have access to computers at work, the vast majority have to share, often with more than four other colleagues, sometimes up to 20.

The survey results launched today (19 May) shows that more than 90% health visitors and community nurses have a computer at home – and more than 80% of them use that equipment to support their NHS work. However, only 2% of those having a home computer and using it regularly to support their work receive recompense from their employer.

The survey shows similar findings over the use of mobile phones, internet and email – and lack of employer recompense.

The CPHVA’s director, Mark Jones said: ‘The sad picture that emerges is one where our members - many with young children to care for - are going home after work to use their own computers to email and browse the internet for work purposes - unpaid - because some primary care trust employers don’t provide them with the tools to do their job in working hours.’

‘Our members must be saving the NHS millions of pounds by using their own computers and mobile phones. Their goodwill is being ruthlessly exploited by lackadaisical managers.’

‘Mobile phones at work are an important issue for our members – over 95% are women – and they are working in the community, often alone, driving in their cars from home to home.’

‘I think government ministers should investigate urgently where the cash earmarked for the health informatics revolution has gone. While progress has been made since our last survey in June 2001, such as access to information systems, the picture remains patchy, particularly in Northern Ireland where the situation is lamentable.’

Other survey highlights include:

  • For those having a computer at work, only 51% nationally can access the NHS Net – this rises to 66% in Scotland, but drops to 6% in Northern Ireland. There are similar results for the trust/employer information system.

  • 12% of those surveyed nationally have to travel up to an average of 5.4 miles to access a computer.

  • Training on computers and the internet has increased since June 2001. However, the majority of the training does not conform to the European Community Driving License (ECDL).

  • 73% of the 528 respondents said that their job performance would improve ‘significantly’, if they had the full range of IT equipment – this rises to over 80% in Northern Ireland.

    The survey is part of the CPHVA’s Make IT Happen campaign which wants a computer on the desk of every health visitor and community nurse, access to the internet and the necessary training.



A copy of the survey can be found on our website:

For further information, please contact:

Mark Jones ( 07768 737773

Shaun Noble Communications Officer ( (020) 7939 7043

mobile ( 07768 69 39 40

CPHVA press releases can be seen on the CPHVA website:

The CPHVA represents health visitors, school nurses, practice nurses and registered nurses working in the community in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The CPHVA is an autonomous professional section of the Amicus trade union. MSF joined with the AEEU to form Amicus, the UK’s second largest union, on 1 January 2002. Amicus has more than 60,000 members working in the health sector.


For further information, please contact

Shaun Noble Press Officer (020) 7939 7043 Mobile 0468 69 39 40 MSF

press releases can be seen on our web site:

Amicus/MSF represents 65,000 health service professionals including the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists, laboratory scientific staff, the College of Health Care Chaplains, the Community Psychiatric Nurses Association, the Medical Practitioners' Union, clinical psychologists, speech therapists, the Hospital Physicists Association and the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association.

Amicus/MSF has 400,000 skilled and professional members in a wide range of industries. It is the UK's second largest union.