In recent years, Digital Health Networks have made an active effort to include more nurses which has helped to drive the digital nursing agenda. I signed up to the CNIO network two years ago and attended my first in person Summer Schools event on July 14 and 15 2022. It was one of the most welcoming environments in health care I have ever experienced.
The BBQ on the first night was a great start to the networking. I was pleased to meet so many nurses face-to-face, having connected on twitter, and they offered their congratulations for being shortlisted for future digital leader of the year. The general buzz for the days to follow was great, with seasoned summer school attendees supporting and guiding us newcomers through the event.
NHS mergers and Integrated Care
The kick off to the event was interesting, we got a real insight from Simon Bolton, and I appreciated that he tackled the mergers of NHS England and NHS Digital head on. He talked about wanting to listen and speak to people to get the purpose of NHS England right.
Then later there was a panel which covered Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) which provided me with such a great insight. The best speaker here was Rushownara Miah (head of business intelligence at Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust). Hearing her talk about the opportunities that she sees available with the data set my researcher brain going and I gave her an instant followon twitter.
On that note, my standout session from day one was the introduction to Artificial Intelligence (AI). Haris Shuaib (consultant clinical scientist – Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust) spoke my language and got me excited about AI, and not in the classic ‘tech will change everything’ way. He gave very real-world examples of the limitations and the options for AI. Plus, when I went to speak to him after for a chat on the bus, he was open to discussing the options for its impact on nursing. This is an area that we are currently looking at as part of the Phillips Ives Review, and I am looking forward to catching up with him again to explore the topic more.
The gala dinner was well co-ordinated, it can be quite daunting to be told that you have to spend the night sat on a table with a group of people you do not yet know. However, I sat next to the wonderful Devesh Sinha (CCIOBarking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust ) and Peter Thomas (CCIO of the year from Moorfields), they both made it extremely easy. We discussed research, career journeys, next steps, and NHS culture with such enthusiasm.
Split screens and Phillips Ives
The keynote of day two was by one of my favourite speakers – Matthew Taylor (CEO NHS Confederation), I heard repetition of his split screen analogy throughout the rest of the day. The analogy perfectly depicted the need in the NHS to focus on both the immediate problems and the long-term strategy for resilience in the future. I am always impressed by how well he speaks and how he works the audience, he never professes to have the all the answers, but he is realistic of the state the NHS is currently in.
This was followed by a laughter filled talk from Rhidian Hurle (CCIO NHS Wales Informatics Service), I enjoyed this as I think we need to hear more from the other nations. I am quite jealous of the Welsh infrastructure, and I want to see and understand the impact of their investments.
Then Natasha Phillips (CNIO at NHS England) spread the message of the Phillips Ives Review – this filled me with pride, that I am currently working one of the biggest reviews and shaping of the nursing workforce that we have ever seen. Next up was Sonia Patel (CIO at NHS England) and she acknowledged that we are improving on the diversity in the room, but we still have a long way to go. This is something I whole heartedly agree with, my challenge to digital health networks is to keep increasing a diverse number of future leaders in the room.
The closing session of the day was my opportunity to speak on, ‘Preventing the Brain Drain’. It was with a fantastic panel; Melissa Andison (associate CCIO at Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust), Darren Mckenna (director of Digital Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust) and Stacey Hatton (CNIO at Barnsley NHS Foundation Trust), chaired by Jon Hoeksma (CEO at Digital Health). When I was first asked to speak on this panel, I was not sure that I had anything to offer the room on the subject. Then I began to think about what has kept me working in the NHS and what has kept me passionate. I have been fortunate and supported in my career to reach for the stars and explore my passions. I am currently doing my MSc in Advanced Clinical Practice and I was supported to apply to the Florence Nightingale Foundation, from which I gained my fellowship with NHS England. I hope the session influenced some digital leaders and gave them something to consider. Staff retention starts with organisational culture.
Summer Schools have once again ignited my passion. I honestly believe that in the digital health space we have some of the best individuals all striving to improve care for the patient and people who use our services. If we maintain this energy, passion, and drive – I know the transformation that we need will happen within the NHS.