Expert Panel publishes report on evaluation of Government commitments on the digitisation of the NHS
In November 2022, techUK responded to the call for evidence from the Expert Panel set up by the Health and Social Care Select Committee, evaluating Government progress on digitising the NHS.
We are pleased to see that our evidence has been taken into consideration in the thorough report that has now been published by the Panel. It is concerning, but altogether not surprising given the scale of the challenge and current pressures on the NHS, that the Expert Panel found Government progress to be ‘inadequate’.
“The rating casts severe doubts on the Government’s ability to ensure that health and social care systems have the digital foundations they need to meet the challenges they face.”
While applauding the ambition of many of the commitments, as well as the efforts of individual staff, it is good to see the report take the time to shed light on the plethora of missed opportunities to implement digital innovations that could significantly improve patient outcomes and ease the burden on frontline staff.
Crucially, the report found that key commitments on digital workforce, the use of data, and the inclusion of social care in digital commitments, were lacking. Professor Dame Jane Dacre, Chair of the Expert Panel, highlights several key issues which techUK have been calling for an increased focus on:
- The need to help patients monitor and manage long-term health conditions independently, empowering them to be co-creators of their own health
- The need for a clear plan outlining how the Government will address public and provider concerns regarding personal data
- Ongoing issues with interoperability between systems, providers, and health and social care
In addition, techUK are pleased to see the report call attention to the need for progress or new approaches across the following areas:
- The delegation of responsibility for digitisation to Integrated Care Systems (ICS) without clear expectations for delivery, risk, or increasing variability in digital maturity
- This includes the need for ICSs to be successful in a bid for extra money, or to source it from the existing budget, risking organisations making choices between the pace and scope of local digital transformation versus maintaining essential services
- The lack of effective plans to mitigate against the digital exclusion experienced by some groups of the population
- Social care services being frequently overlooked, including in national standards relating to the procurement and use of digital technology within the NHS often not applying to social care, resulting in siloed provision of digital services
- The need to increase public and workforce confidence in the secondary uses of patient data
- Lack of clarity around where funding is coming from and at what level commissioning decisions are being made, as well as an apparent lack of consistency in local approaches
techUK are grateful to the Health and Social Care Committee and Expert Panel for the work done to provide a comprehensive overview of Government progress. The potential improvement and efficiencies that digital health and care services can offer have never been so important. Digital transformation is not a ‘nice to have’, but a fundamental pillar of our health service that will enable the UK to tackle the challenges of an ageing population, the elective care backlog, and worsening staff shortages.
“Digital transformation creates much needed efficiencies for NHS staff, freeing up their time and resources for patient care, and enabling data sharing across systems that will allow the UK to adopt the population health approach set out by Government. It has never been more important to digitise and modernise the way the UK provides care, and we cannot afford to slow down now.”
techUK works with colleagues from across industry and the public sector to foster an ecosystem that will enable technology to help solve these problems, looking in-depth at many of the key issues highlighted in this Report. To get involved in our work:
- Take a look at some of the recommendations in our policy report on Integrated Care Systems
- Sign-up to take part in our Social Care Working Group
- Join our Interoperability Working Group
- Have a look at the new Healthtech Procurement Community of Practice
For any questions, please reach out to a member of the team below.