From chance discussion over a coffee to a fully live and living post-graduate course, Professor Wendy Dearing celebrates a new addition to Wales’ health and care.

In April 2021, the Welsh Nursing Care Record (WNCR) went live across a number of Welsh health boards and trusts.  It allows nurses in adult inpatient settings to complete an online assessment form at a patient’s bedside. In a move away from paper-based form filling, the aim is to save time, improve accuracy and minimise duplication.

Long before the project went live, a chance conversation on lessons learned to date started to germinate some thoughts. These have culminated in a new master’s degree programme.

Planning for the future

In those early days of planning, eligible nurses from across all the health boards in Wales were encouraged to apply for a digital secondment to support the implementation. The initial update was very low. That is hugely different now – at least two nurses per health board are working in this space.

Some of the reasons for the lack of applications were:

‘I thought you had to be from a technical background?’
‘I don’t understand the language that is used.’
‘What career options are there if I take this post?’
‘How will my CPD be supported?’
‘What support will be given?’

This led me, as the then Head of Workforce and Organisational Development for NHW Wales Informatics Service (NWIS), now Digital Health and Care Wales, to talk to colleagues at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD). At the latter, I was a Professor of Practice. We talked about what support we could offer.

Towards delivery and completion

Fast forward to September 2020. I accepted the position as Dean of the Institute of Management and Health (IMH) and have led the programme development.

The programme has been developed in collaboration with the Wales Institute for Digital Information (WIDI) and NHS Wales professionals.
WIDI is a strategic partnership between the University of Wales Trinity St David, University of South Wales and Digital Health and Care Wales.

For you

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This partnership is a key driver for enhancing the digital workforce for the health and care sector within Wales.

The first course of its kind in Wales, this postgraduate programme enhances the skills of health and social care staff. This course is suited to those who have an interest in expanding and working within the digital landscape of health and care delivery.

We have the strapline: ‘Shaping the workforce that spearheads the health and care digital revolution.’

The curriculum has been underpinned by both the Core Competency Framework for Clinical Informaticians (The Competency Framework | Faculty Of Clinical Informatics) and the Federation of Informatics Practitioners (Health And Care Informatics | The Federation for Informatics Professionals.

The master’s programme was launched with 60 places fully-funded by the Welsh Government in years one and two.

About the programme

Professor Wendy Dearing, Dean of UWTSD’s Institute of Management and Health said: ‘We are delighted that the Welsh Government is supporting the development of this innovative programme. UWTSD take pride in our ability to work with partners to ensure our programmes are contemporary and reflect the ‘real world’ context and this master’s programme is no exception. We have brought in industry professionals to work alongside our academic team to provide our students with the tools to build upon their unique expertise to grow a culture of inclusion, by using their digital and data skills to continue to deliver a first-class health and care service to our citizens.’

Eluned Morgan, MS, Minister for Health and Social Services said via a video address: ‘It is vital that we invest in the skills we need for the future. This programme and the recognition of the professionalism required in digital roles in health and social care in Wales is an essential part of this. I really welcome the joint work that has been undertaken to develop these important qualifications – by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, the Wales Institute of Digital Information, Health Education and Improvement Wales and Welsh Government.'