Intended for healthcare professionals


Swooning, stereotypes, and observing a birth—the Sharp Scratch roundup

BMJ 2021; 374 doi: (Published 05 August 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1612
  1. Andrew MacFarlane,
  2. Callum Phillips,
  3. Olukayode Oki,
  4. Anna Harvey,
  5. Nikki Nabavi

Highlights from the Sharp Scratch podcast series

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Andrew MacFarlane

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One challenge that every new doctor faces is navigating the temperamental labyrinth of NHS technology. From day one of medical school, students are educated about the importance of communication. However, this does not seem to translate to the technology we all use every day. “Some hospitals will do this really fun thing where you have four or five different apps or programmes that you have to use and different logins for all of them . . . there’s no one way of doing it, regardless of where you work, it’s never intuitive because everyone has designed them slightly differently and they never work with each other,” said Chidera, junior clinical fellow in neurosurgery at Charing Cross Hospital.

Stephen Armstrong, a freelance journalist, explained that the NHS was, and remains to this day, a “pioneering, progressive tech organisation” when it comes to the equipment that is patient facing. So the technology required to conduct surgery or imaging, for example, is “cutting edge tech.” Where it falls down, he says, is the second layer of technology that doesn’t necessarily deal directly with patients, but is required to keep track of data, records, and information.

Successive bad procurement decisions over the years, driven by financial restrictions and the lack of a unified approach to technology, have led us to where we are today. Yet while we may have to be patient and cope with the challenges IT poses at work, we don’t have to accept them. Whether you can code, design, communicate, or lead, there is scope to improve the technological environment we work in.

It is definitely a gargantuan task, but one we must rise to—because there are only so many times …

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