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Data uncovered through a recent Freedom of Information (FoI) request reveals that despite 80% of NHS trusts implementing video conferencing technology, the majority (56%) don’t have training programmes in place to ensure staff are using these systems correctly.

This matters because support for the N3 network for health and care organisations, with its integrated video conferencing add-on, will end this year, and Trusts will transition to the Health and Social Care Network, which does not have a built-in video or collaboration platform.

StarLeaf sent the FoI request to 80 Trusts across the country to discover the main tools staff are using to communicate and understand the key challenges facing Trusts when enabling staff collaboration. It found:

  • 74% of trusts use video conferencing as one of their primary means of communication
  • 48% are planning to introduce virtual consultations or appointments via video in the near future.

The research also found that where video conference systems are overly complex, it hampers communication amongst staff, with the risk of staff shunning approved applications and turning to shadow IT services, such as WhatsApp, to communicate and share information. This could have a serious impact on the security and privacy of patient data across the NHS.

Mark Loney, CTO at StarLeaf, commented: “Effective communication should be the backbone for any Trust but the evidence we’ve seen suggests that when faced with cumbersome video conferencing equipment and limited training, it’s easy for people to turn to familiar tools such as WhatsApp. This puts Trusts at the risk of security breaches.”

Loney continues, “NHS staff perform an incredibly important role. They don’t want to be hindered by complex, difficult to use communications technology. It’s important they can communicate, collaborate and share, with a video conferencing solution that’s intuitively simple, as well as reliable and secure.”

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