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Hunt announces new plans to digitise the NHS


New digital patient services and NHS ‘digital excellence’ targeted in multi-million pound funding package post Wachter review 

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced plans and funding to fast track digital excellence and skills across the NHS in response to a review of NHS technology conducted by US clinician Bob Wachter.

Twelve new ‘global exemplars’ will be given up to £10 million to pioneer and share best practice alongside a new academy dedicated to training NHS staff in digital skills.

Hunt said: “Bob Wachter’s excellent review made it clear that digitisation is as much about people as it is technology, and that this is a real opportunity to improve patient care for the long term. We want to fast track existing digital excellence, as well as nurture new skills and expertise that we will need to deliver a new breed of digitised services.

“This means on the one hand giving pioneering NHS organisations the financial backing to unleash their full potential, while also making sure that we can build a digitally confident workforce across the whole NHS.”

The 12 global exemplars are at:

  • City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust.
  • Salford Royal Hospitals NHS Trust.
  • Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Luton & Dunstable University Hospital NHS Trust.
  • West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust.
  • University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.
  • University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

Further funding will be available for another 20 trusts to become national exemplars, receiving an intensive programme of support from the new NHS digital academy and up to £5 million each to improve how digital technology is used across their organisation.

Digital services for patients

New digital services for patients are also planned from the end of next year, enabling patients to register with a GP, access healthcare records and get medical advice via their tablet or smartphone all in one place.

Digital patient services include: 

  • Expansion of the existing NHS 111 non-emergency phone line service to include a new online ‘triage’ service for less serious health problems.
  • NHS-approved health apps and wearable devices library from NHS England to guide patient choice in health monitoring.
  • NHS Choices to be relaunched as NHS.UK with a fuller range of online patient services, including the ability to register with a GP, see and book appointments, and order and track prescriptions.
  • Instant access to personal health records online via NHS.UK to include prescriptions and test results.
  • More interactive, local information about the performance of health services. From today, the MyNHS website will give better data on how NHS services are performing across dementia, diabetes and learning disability services. Maternity, cancer and mental health data will follow later this year. In future, the revamped site will also include maps, graphs and tools so that patients can see how the performance of their local services has changed over time.

NHS Digital chief executive Andy Williams welcomed the announcements, adding: “Our purpose at NHS Digital is to harness information and technology to deliver better health and care.

“I am excited by the agenda outlined today and believe we have only just begun to achieve the true transformational change and deliver the real benefits that digital technologies can bring to doctors, nurses, social workers, patients and the public."


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