22 May 2023
by Alex Lawrence

techUK welcomes Labour’s focus on a digital NHS that is “fit for the future”

On 22 May, Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer set out Labour’s mission for health and social care. The need for strong leadership from the top, cross-government working, and strong partnerships between the state, private sector, and civil society, were emphasised by the Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Wes Streeting, before Starmer went on to set out some of the details of their plan.

This included a focus on the potential benefits of artificial intelligence, personalised medicine, and better utilisation of the coming technological revolution within healthcare. Starmer outlined three key shifts that needed to take place to enable Labour to achieve its mission: moving care from hospitals into communities; focussing on prevention of disease; moving from analogue to digital.

Specific aims of relevance to the digital health and care sector included:

  • Ensuring patient records are fully digital.
  • Reducing barriers to innovation in the NHS.
  • Expanding access to clinical trials.
  • Producing a ten-year plan for social care, including reaching a fair pay agreement and setting out career progression opportunities.
  • Developing a comprehensive innovation and adoption strategy which will align with the Life Sciences Vision.
  • Producing a plan for procurement, adoption and spread of new technologies to provide innovators with a clearer route to market
  • A better mechanism for accountability of commissioners.
  • An approach to identify unnecessary bureaucracy and reduce the re-evaluation of products that have already been shown to be clinically and cost effective by NICE.
  • Reform of the current incentives structure for adoption of technology.
  • Working with the CQC to ensure regulation involves speedy adoption of new technology.
  • Better horizon scanning for emerging treatments.

techUK welcome these aims, and in particular the focus on scaling proven technologies and clarifying routes to market. Urgent clarity is needed for innovators to understand available paths for deploying a product at scale, with a particular focus on innovation and new solutions such as digital therapeutics.

In 2021, techUK published a report setting out ten recommendations around procurement, interoperability, social care, workforce and citizen-facing digital health technology, the Ten Point Plan for Healthtech, which describe the health technology industry’s key asks and which align with the priorities of the health mission announced today. Alongside our 2022 report, Right from the Start, which set out key areas integrated care systems should prioritise to embed digital, data and technology solutions into everyday practice, these reports provide further detail on techUK’s thoughts and potential solutions to some of the challenges around digital and data that Starmer touched upon today.

Driving improvements in outcomes for patients and staff experience is crucial to transformation of the NHS and social care sector. It is positive to see the challenges that industry face on a day-to-day basis receive recognition, and we welcome further collaboration with both Government and the Labour Party to tackle these issues in a collaborative way.

“We welcome Sir Keir Starmer’s recognition of the vital importance of innovation and digital transformation in the health and social care sectors. It is clear that harnessing the full potential of digital advancements will be instrumental in revolutionising our NHS and social care system to effectively tackle present and future challenges. As a membership organisation, we are proud to be working with our members, which include hundreds of technology companies operating across the health and social care sectors, who are working hard to deliver cutting-edge solutions to support patients and staff. Together, we are committed to paving the way for a more progressive care system that fosters innovation.”

Julian David, CEO


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Alex Lawrence

Alex Lawrence

Programme Manager, Health and Social Care, techUK