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Informatics Skills Development Network lifts off

Blog post by Lynn Hartley, Skills Development Manager for the ISDN.

The Informatics Skills Development Network (ISDN) has been in existence for just over one year and so the team felt that that would be a good opportunity not only to celebrate that fact, but also to formally launch the network making sure everyone was aware of what the network was doing, and what benefit they and their staff could get by participating.

So, in September over forty senior and other interested staff gathered in the Durham Centre.

Professor Graham Evans, Executive Chief Digital and Information Officer, NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board and Chair of the ISDN Oversight Group began the session by setting out his vision for the network and how it linked with the ICS Digital Strategy, emphasising the need for addressing the skills gap and the part ISDN could play in that.

We welcomed James Freed, Chief Digital and Transformation Officer, from Health Education England who linked the work being done by the network to the Year of the Digital Profession. HEE have been a key supporter of the network, ensuring that the North East organisations had the same access to development and collaborative spaces as colleagues in other regions.

Lisa Ward took time out from implementing County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust’s new Electronic Patient Record system to share her inspirational journey as a Chief Nurse Information Officer, before Mark Dornan, GP from Teams Medical Practice linked us up to the work going on within primary care.

During the afternoon we heard from a number of speakers about the impact that introducing the skills development network to their area had had on the ability of their staff to connect and innovate with colleagues: Marc Saaiman, Deputy Head of Procurement at South Tees and Dave Smith, CIO, Bridgewater Community Health and Chair of NW ISD Steering Group. Each reiterated that organisations get the best from the network by actively getting involved to set the direction.

As part of our sessions we asked what our priorities for our digital workforce should be. The top five results in order are:

  1. Practical skills training
  2. Special interest groups and networking
  3. Technical seminars
  4. Leadership and management development
  5. Masterclasses on soft skills

We have taken that on board and are working to put all of these in place.

We finished the day off with Steve Bate, MBE, British cyclist and Paralympian inspiring us to maximise our efforts to maximise our results – proof of which he ably demonstrated by passing around his Olympic medals after his talk. I think we all got our photo taken with Steve and his medals!

All of our sessions stressed that we can make a difference and that collaboration and upskilling our existing workforce will help us tackle the challenges of the next few years.

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