The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Celebrating our nurses - Jackie Whittle & Georgie Duncan

12 May 2021

We are celebrating our nurses, midwives and operating department practitioners (ODPs) in a two-week long celebration during May that takes in the international recognition days for each profession. Today we're putting the spotlight on our nurses, so it's over to Jackie Whittle, CCIO and Georgie Duncan, Deputy CCIO, to explain more about the critical role digital plays in nursing of the future.

DIT Nurses Georgie (first left) and Jackie (second left), pictured with colleagues from the DIT nursing team. Photo taken pre-Covid.

Why did you want to work in IT?

Georgie: Throughout my nursing career I’ve always had a great interest in technology and data. As an intensive care nurse, I was always interested in how we could improve care for our patients by using the most current technology. I also wanted to ensure colleagues could work efficiently. So it’s no surprise to anyone that I now have a job in DIT!

Jackie: I’ve worked across a number of clinical and corporate roles during my career, including the role of Head of Nursing for professional practice, standards and safety, with nursing documentation in my portfolio. At the time, I recognised we had a lot of work to do embed digital ways of working, and I wanted to make sure the nursing community were involved in this. Nurses make up the biggest part of the clinical workforce, so it’s important that we’re involved in the conversation and our voices are heard. I jumped at the chance to join DIT when the opportunity arose!

Why do you think IT makes a difference to the way we provide patient care?

Jackie: In today’s climate, technology is absolutely embedded in everything we do, and using technology at the bedside really improves patient and staff safety.  Technology is second nature to the next generation of nursing staff so it couldn’t be more important. I’ll always remember a piece of research about technology in nursing which showed that, on average, every nurse spends an hour a shift looking for bits of paper. This really brings home the amount of time and energy we can save by not chasing drug charts around the hospital! Digital gives clinicians a platform to centralise information, improve patient safety and bring in efficiencies.

Georgie: The whole of DIT is involved in supporting the delivery of patient care. Through PPM+ developments, analysing & reporting data, training, provision of medical records - the examples are endless. I’ve been involved in developing the Ward Healthcheck and Perfect Ward dashboards, as well as supporting a range of Quality Improvement collaboratives. Giving colleagues real time data about their incidents, improving care and understanding how they are performing against a suite of clinical best practice standards has been revolutionary. A couple of years ago I attended a DIT all staff day and afterwards was given a badge from the I & I team that I still have today. This says ‘Data saves lives’ and I couldn’t agree more! (I love a good run chart!)

What opportunities do you think IT opens up for nurses?

Georgie: I believe that working in IT is going to be the future for many nurses. The pandemic has accelerated so many different ways of harnessing digital technology, which has provided new and innovative ways of working. Having clinicians involved in how we develop digitally is crucial. We also need to ensure that digital ways of working are seen as ‘normal business’ for  student nurses, nursing associates and beyond. I want to work with Universities to actively promote this. There is also the NHS Digital Academy course that provides a range of digital theory and great networking opportunities to meet other like-minded nursing colleagues across England. 

Jackie: Historically nurses can either stay in practice, progress to management or go into education. Digitisation offers a completely different route for career progression, and having nurses embedded at the heart of this is just fantastic. The opportunity to bring digital into clinical practice using nursing expertise, knowledge and skills has the power to drive digital transformation forward. 

What do you love most about your job?

Jackie: I love the challenge it brings! It’s very different to a clinical role, and I Iove the variety and breadth of people I interact with within DIT and across the Trust. It’s important to me to be in a role that makes such an improvement to patient experience, supports staff and will having a lasting impact on the way we provide care.

Georgie: No two days are ever the same. I’m involved in some very exciting projects that make a very real difference to our patients and operational colleagues.  When the point of care COVID swabs went live I might have quietly squeaked with excitement! I still do clinical shifts in intensive care so I get to use many of the documents or interfaces that we have deployed. I get a great sense of pride when I use them, and take every opportunity to showcase them as well.