BCS, UKCHIP and IHRIM announce a new vision for the health informatics profession at HC2014



19 March 2014

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, the UK Council of Health Informatics Professions (UKCHIP) and the Institute of Health Records and Information Management (IHRIM) are working collaboratively to create a new federation for the Informatics profession. The three autonomous bodies will work closely together in a federation to ensure that UK health informatics is recognised as a valued profession. 

Justin Whatling, Chair of BCS Health, part of the Chartered Institute for IT, explains: “This is a very exciting moment for health informatics. Today technology has an immense and profound impact on the health and wellbeing of people. Therefore it’s time for the profession to mature to meet the increasing demand on our skills and capability. We want health to be an attractive place for informatics professionals from other sectors to come and work, and we want to provide a clear career path and professional development opportunities to retain those already working in health. The federation will help us to achieve this.”

The initiative comes as the NHS is under increasing pressure to find and implement new models of health and social care that will provide services closer to people’s homes. This requires health professionals to share accurate information securely and confidentially. In addition, the Caldicott 2 Review has introduced a Duty of Care to Share health information. Both of these things have happened at a time when public trust in the NHS’ ability to handle personal health information has taken a hit.

The federation will be open to all other informatics professional bodies, the private sector, the home countries and lay representation. It will provide leadership of the overall profession with a single professional register and point of entry for professionals, oversee an agreed regulatory framework with a common code of ethical practice and coordinate access to resources providing a unified set of capabilities for all professional areas of practice.

Gwyn Thomas, Chair of UKCHIP adds: “To be successful we have to now bring informatics professionalism to the mainstream. For any profession to be credible, it needs to be independent, inclusive and self-sustaining; founded on a strong set of values constructed from codes of conduct and ethics, professional standards, voluntary registration, accreditation and regulation. This initiative is very much in line with the approach to partnership working that UKCHIP announced with NHS England in 2013. Our aim through this federation is to promote the values of professionalism in informatics to help to maintain public trust in the NHS’ ability to handle personal health and care information securely and confidentially.”

Isabel Chevis, Chief Executive of IHRIM says: “Together, UKCHIP, BCS and IHRIM, all consider that it is time that we matured as a profession and set about building ourselves a stronger platform so that we can speak with a louder collective voice that will be heard and heeded. To do this, we need to know what health informatics professionals want and think; this is the beginning of our consultation period where we are very much looking for feedback from across the entire informatics profession beginning at BCS’ health computing conference HC2014.”

The federation will launch a governance board which will run in shadow format from April this year. There will be a number of vacant seats on the board for current and future NHS informatics professional leaders. Deciding how these will be filled will be done through a wide consultation across the NHS over the next six months to agree strong value propositions for patients, public, employers and for existing and potential members.

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