Dr Scott Brown responded: “It’s a role that’s changing and an area in which we need to develop educationally.” Andrew Frost added: “Clinical knowledge is about understanding workflow and re-educating clinical staff on how new technology is going to change.” John Sandham concurred that the role of biomedical engineers is changing and training is becoming more prevalent. “Looking to the US, biomeds are definitely more ‘hands on’ when setting up new equipment. In 10 to 15 years’ time, we are going to be the integrators between IT, procurement and user training – and will play a larger role in purchasing decisions. “One hospital I visited had a connected system but not enough staff to use it – due to lack of training.”

Moving on to recruitment, a delegate noted the frustration felt by young engineers who wanted to evolve their career roles, but were unable to do so. However, another delegate responded: “In my ICT clinical engineering department this is not the case. The barrier is only created in your head. Our job is to use all the integrated technology for the good of the patient, so there are plenty of options to evolve. Young people don’t see that barrier and were encouraging our clinical engineers to get training.” Andrew Frost observed: “There is often a lack of visibility at board level, but when this isn’t the case this enables discussion and the opportunity to evolve into other projects. Clinical engineering is an ideal place to work across silos.”

Educational innovation

Following lunch, educational innovation was the theme, with a talk from Laura Metcalfe, deputy head of service, medical equipment management at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. With more than 25 years’ experience working as a technologist for the NHS in medical equipment management, training and staff development is a focus in Laura’s role; she is also the training co-ordinator for the IPEM West of Scotland Training Consortium and manages the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde medical equipment management modern apprentice training programme. Laura discussed a new industry recognised technology certification and highlighted issues many experience when on a recruitment drive. “We have 100 technologists working for us,”

she explained. “My role is training lead and this also involves qualifications. The majority – 38% - of the workforce are over 50, so how do we encourage a new generation?” When asking delegates how successful recruitment adverts had been, nobody raised their hand. “We currently have a number of vacancies. In the past we employed people with a background in electronics, but many of the large companies are no longer there, so now we have to look at colleges and universities. “Last year we spoke to students, took along our equipment and this resulted in 48 applicants for four posts. Nevertheless, one of the successful applicants turned the role down as they had a better offer from industry. We can’t compete. “Another issue is that many college students don’t want a job, as they’re studying for university.”

Laura elucidated on the success of an apprenticeship scheme which focused on 17 to 19 year old school leavers and offers them an alternative to university. “It’s a bespoke training programme,” she explained. “We’ve developed the Customised Award, a qualification to meet our needs and ensures that they are all being trained at the same level.”

Initially developed by Laura, the

qualification was then sent for a peer review to get perspective from bands 5, 6 and 7. It was then submitted to the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) for accreditation. “The SQA gave us credibility beyond our speciality by using our qualification as a case study,” said Laura.

According to Laura, the scheme has been a great success and focuses on clinical understanding: “Students need to understand their role as part of the clinical team, and to gain the thought processes whereby they consider all the risks.

“Healthcare and technology are rapidly changing, so rather than sending staff on IT courses, because this qualification is ours, it gives us the freedom to adapt it accordingly. “Feedback from the trainees is extremely positive, and it has been well received by our staff. It gives us a clearly defined path from modern apprentice to band 65. This is a qualification with the flexibility we need in modern healthcare.”

Medical devices integration

Mark Smith joined Enovacom in 2016 as UK business development director, following a 20-year career in healthcare IT. Mark asserted the importance of a biomedical engineer’s role in ensuring real time data is available to clinicians. “The key priorities for the NHS are improving patients’ safety, resources and wholesale digitisation,” he asserted. “Unfortunately there is a dearth of people in Trusts and several issues facing biomedical engineers. The problems linked to new technology include the age old problems of transcription errors when collecting patients’ vital signs. Manual collection of data is also time consuming.” Enovacom Patient Connect is a


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