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Government rejects experts’ criticism of NHS digitisation


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The UK Government has formally rejected the findings of a recently published critical report by an expert panel on the progress of digitisation in the NHS.

Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee, which has been holding an enquiry on the issue, has published the Government’s formal response to the panel’s report in which it “does not recognise” the overall rating of inadequate as reflective of the progress to date.

In February the committee published the expert panel’s report, which highlighted a number of shortcomings. These included that progress towards improving digital capabilities in the health service has often been hindered by insufficient support and funding, that faster progress is needed in building national interoperability and there is not an effective workforce strategy

While the Government’s response described the report as “helpful”, saying it provides insights for improvements in specific areas, it does not agree with the overall rating.

Claims of achievement

The new document says the experts’ report has been superseded by progress on commitments made in A Plan for Digital Health and Social Care, published in June of last year. This includes achievements such as integrated care systems (ICSs) meeting a target to reduce unnecessary outpatient appointments and follow-ups by at least 25%, and the launch of a multi-agency advice service for AI deployment in the NHS.

In addition, it says the NHS is on track for 90% of trusts to have electronic health records by December of this year and for 80% of registered adult social care providers to have digital care records by March 2024.

It adds that the Government has published the Data Saves Lives strategy for the sector and that over a third of its commitments have already been completed, including an agreement on a target data architecture.


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