Headlines: March 12th, 2004

A new national registration scheme for people working in health informatics has been welcomed as a contribution to the care and safety of patients in the National Health Service.Lord Philip Hunt, who chairs the National Patient Safety Agency said the system would help to improve quality and safety in patient care. Speaking at the formal launch of the UK Council for Health Informatics Professionals (UKCHIP) and the on-line registration scheme, he said the group was at the heart of improvements to services and was helping to protect the public by managing and using information effectively and in ways that did not compromise patient safety.

UKCHIP has grown from an initiative by a group of information specialists working with the NHS Information Authority to establish the professional status of health informatics within the NHS. As well as providing recognition through registration, the council aims to define qualifications and standards, introduce a Code of Conduct, establish a framework for continuing professional development and ensure a de-registration process is in place to protect patients.

Dr Gwyn Thomas, the NHS Information Authority’s Chief Executive, says the new body is an important milestone and he has pledged continuing support for the council and its work. He said technology was being used increasingly in health care, making informatics one of the fastest growing employment sectors in the NHS. The registration process would take the health informatics profession a step closer to ensuring appropriate standards and would encourage professional development and improvements to the status of those working in the profession.