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New ‘NHSX’ unit will lead health service digital transformation

Will bring together public and private sector to accelerate change

NHS

A new government division dubbed NHSX has been unveiled, and will be led by its own chief executive and charged with accelerating digital transformation of England’s health service.

The division has been created as a single driver for digital transformation, and overcome the current spread of responsibility between NHS England, NHS Improvement and the Department of Health and Social Care.

NHSX will take some staff from NHS England, and will take its current role as leader of digital transformation.

The new unit will also seek to accelerate the uptake of commercial technology in partnership with the private sector, with the promise of combining “the best talent from government, the NHS and industry.”

Its creation reflects health secretary Matt Hancock’s frustration at the slow pace of digital uptake - he told the Health Service Journal today that it had taken him seven months to get agreement on the use of email in place of older technology.

The DHSC says the new unit will “combine some of the best minds” from among the NHS, leading innovators, and government to “set national policy, remove red tape and create a culture of innovation to allow the best innovations to flourish.”

Hancock

Health secretary Matt Hancock

Announcing the new division, Hancock said:

“Because I care about patients getting the best treatment, I care about the NHS getting the best technology. But everyone knows how hard it’s been to get the NHS to adopt the best in digital. We’ve set out a clear tech vision for the NHS, which underpins our NHS Long Term Plan.

Now we’re bringing together the tech leadership into NHSX, which will be responsible for harnessing the true potential of technology to transform care, save lives, free up clinicians’ time and empower patients to take greater control of their own health.”

Hancock has pledged that NHSX will work with the NHS and the wider digital economy to build world-class digital services, helping to improve patient care and supporting medical research.

The organisation will use experts in technology, digital, data and cyber security to deliver on the Hancock's tech vision and the Long Term Plan for the NHS.

NHSX’s responsibilities will be broad, defining national policy and best practice, ensuring greater interoperability between IT platforms, and reforming procurement, among many others.

The search for a chief executive of NHSX will now begin – they will be given strategic responsibility for deciding the national direction on technology across organisations, and will report to health secretary and chief executives of NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Some immediate responses from digital experts on social media have been sceptical about creating a new organisation, however.

The King’s Fund’s Harry Aagard Evans tweeted: “Will post a full thread later. But let’s just say I don’t envy the new chief exec of NHSX – sounds like a governance nightmare.”

Matthew Fenech, a computational cognitive scientist and digital consultant expressed similar views, saying that the addition of NHSX would add to the many different existing NHS organisations with strategic oversight in England.

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

19th February 2019

From: Healthcare

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