I have been attending the NHS-HE forum since 2005 and have found it a really useful event where I can meet with members from a wide variety of National Health Service and Higher Education institutions. The presentations are always varied and stimulating, covering topics relating to research data and systems, NHS governance issues, JANET networking developments, NHS-HE connectivity issues and solutions, NHS social media access management, library services and more.
For me, the main benefit of the forum is that I can chat with others who have already found solutions to problems that I may wish to see implemented on my own patch. Probably of greatest benefit is the working group I am a member of, where we collaborate to work on national issues relating to the connectivity between the NHS and HE. A recent key output from the NHS-HE Connectivity Best Practice Working Group was the Web 2.0 and Social Media in Education and Research document, by Natalie Lafferty, which addresses the web 2.0 needs of education and research in NHS Trusts.
In the last NHS HE forum (November 2013), I presented the work with the Weston Area Health NHS Trust where the IT teams from both organisations have collaborated to initiate a pilot project to provide eduroam WiFi throughout the hospital. This is a fantastic development which enables the students and staff of the University to seamlessly connect to the wifi and gain internet access which is segregated from the Trusts main network. They can communicate by email, twitter etc., research medical symptoms, diagnoses and prognoses whilst on the wards and access resources from the University (library, Journals, file store and Blackboard VLE etc). I have already blogged about this project and the opportunity this creates for the modern medical student in ‘A golden thread’.
Resources such as this eduroam pilot, the NHS-HE gateway initiative and Natalie’s Web 2.0 document can be used to encourage other NHS and HE organisations to move forward by developing ways of working that reduce barriers to our students and researchers, without ignoring appropriate governance issues.