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IMechE recommends two new engineering roles to deliver high tech healthcare

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The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has released a new report calling on more engineers to delivery high tech healthcare.

It explained the importance of healthcare engineers to have increased authority and decision-making powers to encourage recruitment and ensure new technology is designed and adopted in the safest, most effective way.

Adding how healthcare engineers must have increased authority and decision-making powers to encourage recruitment and ensure new technology is designed and adopted in the safest, most effective way.

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IMechE said healthcare providers need more engineers to handle new technology and rising patient numbers.

NHS workforce includes only around 3,000 clinical engineers. IMechE calls for the creation of two new healthcare engineering roles.

According to the new report, the National Health Service faces a huge influx of new technology and a rise in patient numbers in coming years, but to deliver safe and affordable care there will need to be more engineers coming into the healthcare sector, according to a new report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Engineers with both clinical and technical skills are needed to ensure that where medical technology and services are being used, they are the right tools for the situation, whether the patient is being treated at home or in hospital.

In the report “Healthcare Solutions: elevating the engineering workforce”, the Institution calls for healthcare engineers to have increased authority and decision-making powers to encourage recruitment and ensure new technology is designed and adopted in the safest, most effective way.

Dr Helen Meese, lead author of the report and vice chair of the Institution’s Biomedical Engineering Division, said: “If we are to learn from global crises such as the Covid pandemic, it is that 21st century medicine can only be delivered with significant amounts of technology and, that care at home is just as critical as care in hospitals.”

Despite WHO calling upon all countries to “recognise engineers working in healthcare settings as an essential professional role for the future of clinical and social care”, there continues to be disparity between healthcare engineers and clinicians.

The NHS has a workforce of around 1.5 million people, but the number of clinical engineers is relatively small compared to this, around 3000-3,500 professionals.

Meese added: “Unlike clinicians there is little uniform recognition of engineers’ contribution, particularly in the hospital environment. These engineers often operate at varying levels of authority and have limited input into critical decision-making.”

The Institution recommends that two new healthcare engineering roles be created to ensure technology is selected and used to the benefit of all patients:

Chief Healthcare Engineer with Strategic Oversight

Every hospital should have a Chief Healthcare Engineer, a position of professional parity with roles such as the Head of Surgery, Chief Nurse and Chief Pharmacist.

These engineers would have consistent qualifications, level of authority, decision-making abilities and connectivity with other hospitals. This would not only promote best practice in the procurement, maintenance and use of medical equipment but increase the opportunity for cost savings across the healthcare service.

Patient-Enablement Engineers and Technicians in social care

The growing desire to move long-term care and treatment out of the clinical setting, is creating a new dilemma for already overwhelmed social care systems. Steps should be taken to build on the well-proven techniques of rehabilitation and assistive technology engineering to create the patient care pathway at home.

Patient-Enablement Engineers and Technicians would work exclusively in the space between acute care and social care with their clinical colleagues. They would not only require the full remit of engineering qualifications and skills but in-depth clinical and social care knowledge as well as management and customer service experience.

Tags : engineeringHealthcareIMechE
Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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