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Nursing involvement in the work of the Professional Record Standards Body

Annette Gilmore, Clinical Advisor and Project Lead, Professional Record Standards Body

Annette Gilmore is an experienced nurse and researcher, who joined the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB) in 2014, becoming its head of clinical and patient assurance in 2016

Her current role - as clinical adviser and project lead - focuses on collecting patient information that can be used for important purposes such as audit, evaluation and needs assessment. Annette is also a member of the RCN's eHealth Forum steering committee.

For me, informatics has always been a natural part of everyday nursing. It's thinking about how you can make the best use of the information that has been collected to improve the quality of patient care.

In my day-to-day role here, I have a team of subject matter experts - including nurses, midwives, doctors, patients and allied healthcare professionals - who I consult about the various information standards I'm sent by NHS Digital. We're looking at the data collected from both a patient's and a frontline professional's perspective, so we can have a real say, advising on what is clinically meaningful and useful for research, monitoring and audit.

Often, clinicians aren't involved in the development of what's being gathered and measured. We need more nurses and midwives. There can be a perception that because it's data, it's not relevant to practice. But we want these arms-length bodies (for example, Public Health England, NHS England) to collect information that's useful - and the only way we can achieve that is by encouraging health care professionals and patients to share their views. These bodies are the commissioners and users of these datasets, so it is very important they have the right information to base their decisions about patient care, service provision and staff needs. Through working with the PRSB, there is a collective voice with co-ordinated advice that can help to drive significant changes.

Nursing staff can be involved in the PRSB's work in a variety of different ways. For example, as we begin to draft a standard, you can volunteer to complete a survey or be interviewed about your views and ideas. It's not a big commitment, but is very powerful in the end product.

There are also expert groups, whose responsibilities include devising the key headings to explore and checking the formats will work for them, followed by workshops. Most projects will host one or two, where we gather expertise, looking at whether we have captured everything necessary and whether the standard will work in practice. Becoming involved can count towards your revalidation and we also pay expenses.

We also have project boards that we want nursing staff to become part of, which usually encompasses two or three meetings held virtually. It's great learning and mutually beneficial - you get as much out of it, or more, than you put in. You can opt to become a clinical adviser on the team, which may involve working one day each week for the project's duration.

Electronic health care records are here to stay, so it's important to look at the opportunities and risks they present. As the majority users, nurses and midwives need to be involved in how they are developed, and how the information is shared. Standardisation also improves information governance, enhancing patient safety. For example, we know that half of medication errors and a fifth of serious reactions to drugs are due to poor information-sharing in patient care records. Poor record-keeping is also a common reason why nurses are involved in disciplinary hearings.

Annette Gilmore
Clinical Advisor and Project Lead, Professional Record Standards Body

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