Establishing a Faculty of Clinical Informatics: Update

The Faculty of Clinical Informatics (FCI) Steering Group was set up in April 2015 under the guidance of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of General Practitioners, on behalf of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. Its remit was to explore the feasibility of establishing a Faculty of Clinical Informatics. The purpose of this document is firstly to report the significant progress that has been made and secondly to seek nominations for a Shadow Board to complete the work of launching the Faculty. The aim is for the Faculty to be launched in May 2017 under the governance of this Shadow Board and then to achieve full Faculty status later in the year.

The intention is for the Faculty to be inclusive, catering for the needs of all clinical informaticians who are registered with a regulatory body such as GMC, NMC, or HCPC. It has set itself objectives up to 2020 including; establishing clinical informatics as a recognised profession, developing professional standards, supporting revalidation, providing training and accreditation for individuals and courses, and supporting recruitment and careers in clinical informatics.

At its latest meeting on February 9th, 2017 the Steering Group (SG) reviewed all of the exploratory and preparatory work done to date. A detailed Business Plan has been developed which draws together all of the many strands of that preparatory work, and which is complemented by a steadily lengthening list of supporting draft documents. It covers the first five years of the Faculty, from the current start-up position, through the launch of the Faculty, the continued development of services and attraction of members, to the point at which it becomes self-funding and is operating as a full professional body providing a range of services. Two key decisions were made. Firstly, the SG approved the Business Plan. Secondly, having agreed the Terms of Reference for a FCI Shadow Board, the SG determined that transition from Steering Group to Shadow Board should proceed as soon as possible. The intention is for this Shadow Board to be a more authoritative, nimble and ‘hands on’ body than the Steering Group. Its main objectives will be to ensure that all of the necessary pre-requisites are in place and suitably detailed and that the Faculty, with all of its essential Officers, staff and structures in place, is then launched in a timely and orderly fashion.

A key enabler to all of this has been the recent approval of £500,000 funding to support the Business Plan for its full five years. This funding comes from the National Information Board’s Paperless 2020, Building a Digital Ready Workforce (BDRW) programme. The funding can only be made available to a legal entity. Clearly prior to its establishment the Faculty cannot fulfil that role. Arrangements for the Royal College of General Practitioners to act as a ‘proxy’ legal entity, until such time as the Faculty can act for itself, are nearing completion.

Amongst its many tasks a high priority for the Shadow Board will be to establish a caucus of Founding Fellows. The SG has reviewed, and agreed in principle, a process for admitting Founding Fellows. This route to Fellowship will be time limited; it will be based on experience based criteria and a peer review process. An independently chaired Founding Fellowship Panel will determine both the criteria and the details of the admission process. It is anticipated that the Officers of the Faculty will be drawn from that Caucus of Founding Fellows and that Founding Fellows will play a key role in getting the Faculty established.

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