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.
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.