NHS medical device training goes online

22 February 2009

A ground-breaking project is being launched in the UK to create a National Health Service (NHS) e-learning platform for medical devices, including a library of both generic and detailed training.

The NHS Training Hub for Operative Technologies in Healthcare (THOTH) has secured almost half a million pounds over two years from the Department of Health to get the project off the ground and the first online training is scheduled to go live in the Spring.

A number of device types will be selected initially, with the criteria focusing on those which are patient safety-critical, in extensive use throughout the NHS and technically complex. Eventually the categories will be extended and will cover all major devices, from defibrillators and infusion pumps to ECGs, diathermy equipment and pressure-relieving patient beds.

The aim is to ensure staff are trained in new or different medical devices and that information is easily accessible through a secure NHS network, hosted by e-Learning for Healthcare. Generic information on the device category will be included as well as detailed guidance from the manufacturer and, where appropriate, supported with explanatory graphics or simulations.

The e-learning platform will link up with the electronic staff record and details of training undertaken will be lodged on individual records.

Tim Rubidge, THOTH operations director, said: “Given that a key aim for the NHS is to ensure that the workforce is trained to the highest standards, the medical device e-leaning platform will give easy, 24/7 access to a library of initial training on specific medical devices.

“All manufacturers have an interest in high-quality training on their equipment and this initiative provides an opportunity to enhance their partnership with the NHS.

“Staff will be able to call up new devices they are going to be working with and get a ‘look and feel’ for the equipment – how it works, how it’s controlled, specific safety features etc, before going on to the ward.

“It’s important to stress that the e-learning library will not be a substitute for hands-on training but will support it, giving staff a good, initial overview. We also have to bear in mind that pressures to keep staff on the wards can mean that current medical device training is patchy or incomplete. The e-learning platform will bring training to the staff.”

THOTH will be working closely with staff, particularly medical device trainers, manufacturers and the Royal colleges, to compile the e-library. It will set up a panel of experts to review specific information before it is launched on the site, and staff will be required to complete an assessment of their knowledge of a device as part of the online learning.

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