Why The Phillips Ives Review is crucial to shape our nursing and midwifery digital future

Published on 27 July 2022, by Natasha Phillips

Nursing and midwifery, Strategic workforce planning and modelling

When I started my role as Chief Nursing Information Officer for England the Covid-19 pandemic was in full flow. During this time, we witnessed the adoption of technology across the country at pace in a way I’ve never experienced throughout my nursing career. With the adoption of these new technologies, nurses and midwives faced increasing pressure, not just from the strain caused by the pandemic, but being able to adapt and use these new systems.

There is a concern from our colleagues that they don’t have the training and knowledge to keep up with this rate of change – this is why I started The Phillips Ives Nursing and Midwifery Review, to ensure our profession is equipped with the skills to use digital technology, now and in the future.

Building on The Topol Review, which focused on the healthcare workforce as a whole, The Phillips Ives Review looks at the needs of nurses and midwives, providing recommendations for our educational and training needs, enabling us to provide safe, effective digitally-enabled practice.

Why are we doing this for nurses and midwives? Being the largest profession in the NHS, we are often the face that the public sees, working in a diverse range of roles supporting patients and their families throughout care, from the birth of a child, to being there in the most difficult times.

The Phillips Ives Review will consider seven themes which are organised into three advisory panels:

  1. Exploiting data and science (genomics and AI, data science and research),
  2. Person centred (nursing in a place-based health and social care system, merging technologies and opportunities),
  3. Practice and development (professionalisation of the specialist digital nursing and midwife workforce, workforce planning and preparation for practice).

This review is also a great opportunity to learn from our international partners, and I’m delighted we have the input of my Co-Chair Jeannette Ives Erikson to help establish how we professionalise informatics into nursing and midwifery roles, ensuring there is special education in development, and defining capability frameworks.

Attending Digital Health Summer School…

On 14 and 15 July I attended the Digital Health Summer School, where I talked about our work with a keynote speech. I’m delighted to say this was met with much enthusiasm from the audience eager to know more about The Phillips Ives Review and was the top headline on Digital Health.

Attendees also got the chance to share their views at a roundtable event hosted by Judith Dando, Programme Lead for the Review, with a sketch artist putting together a visual based on feedback.

I admit I was anxious at the start of the day seeing a humongous sheet of blank paper, worried no one would want to contribute. My fears were for nothing, as thanks to the Phillips Ives programme team they were comfortable asking anyone walking past to share their thoughts!

By the end of the day we had a beautiful display which contained an overview of all the challenges and needs – we’ll be sharing these later.

Another session I was delighted to be a part of was the Allied Health Professionals (AHP) event, who I see as playing an important part in this work. Nurses and midwives work as part of a multi-disciplinary team, so this review cannot be done in isolation, and the outcomes of The Phillips Ives Review could be adapted to inform other profession focused reviews.

The response so far…

Over the next few months, the team are continuing to work hard on the consultation, and it’s fair to say many of you are behind the need to develop the digital capabilities of our nursing and midwifery workforce.

Since we held the launch event on the 26 May, we’ve had an overwhelming show of support – over 200 of you offered up your time to get involved in one to one interviews and roundtables.

Due to this demand we’ve had to close expression of interests, but don’t let this dishearten you – you can still get involved. We’ve now launched a platform to record your ideas, and if you want to join the conversation, then get on Twitter using the hashtag #PhillipsIvesReview.

Thank you all for your support, The Phillips Ives Review is essential to understand the increasing role of digital in nursing and midwifery – as a profession we are blessed with a network of passionate colleagues ready to champion digital nursing, and this is our opportunity to pull out the struggles faced by colleagues who may not see themselves as digitally literate, and put in recommendations to ensure they can adapt and use with confidence the technology for the NHS of tomorrow.

NP Dr Natasha Phillips

Dr Natasha Phillips

Chief Nursing Information Officer

NHS England


Dr Natasha Phillips is a clinical academic who started her career as a nursing assistant at the North London Hospice before going on to train at Middlesex University, to specialise in critical care and obtain a BSc Critical Care Nursing from King's College London. Natasha has held a number of operational and strategic leadership positions in the NHS. She has led a large number of transformational programmes of change, involving the use of digital technologies and informatics; most recently the implementation of an enterprise wide electronic health record at University College Hospitals London. She is currently the Chief Nursing Information Officer at NHS England. Natasha is an honorary Research Fellow at University College London, her research interests include digitally enabled nursing, organisational design and clinical leadership. Natasha is passionate about developing nurses with the skills to lead in complexity; her thesis on ward leadership highlights the need to develop the skills of reflexivity amongst nurse leaders to support their leadership practice. Natasha is an Alumni of the Florence Nightingale Foundation and a qualified organisational development practitioner.

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