Institutions join bid for NHS contracts

September 25, 1998

A consortium of universities, National Health Service trusts and small businesses are poised to bid for education and training contracts in health informatics - the use of information within the health service.

The group, called the Virtual Institute for Health Informatics, was launched last week. It has nine branches across Britain, and more are expected. An advisory body will also be established.

"There have been small groups beavering away, but there has never been a coherent strategy before," said Susan Clamp of the medical school at the University of Leeds. She coordinates the institute's Yorkshire branch, which also includes Leeds Metropolitan University and the universities of Hull, Huddersfield and Bradford.

"Education and training were identified as the root of many problems that people were facing in the NHS," said Leo Lewis of the University of Wales, Swansea, who oversaw the working party that established the institute.

The institute is waiting for the NHS to publish its IT strategy, expected as The THES went to press, before it refines its approach. But its first job will be to examine existing course provision. "We need to find out what is going on," said Dr Clamp, who trains university medics plus NHS nurses and radiologists.

The institute also aims to share research. For example, it will look at the development of areas such as telemedicine and electronic health records.

The need for a national institute for health informatics was identified by two panels set up under the Department of Trade and Industry's Foresight programme.

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