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Wales to spend on digital for health and social care

11/06/18

New plan includes open platform approach to innovation and creation of national data resource for sharing information

An investment in digital systems will play a significant role in the first shared plan for health and social care in Wales.

The Welsh Government has highlighted its importance in its plans for the services, A Healthier Wales, published by Health Secretary Vaughan Gething today.

Key features of the plan include the provision of a £100 million Transformation Fund and a drive to move more care away from hospitals into community and the home and integrated prevention services.

A section of the document focuses on the potential for digital and data to improve care and says an integrated platform will capture much more information about health and wellbeing outcomes, which will be used to prioritise services.

It reflects the development of the Welsh Community Care Information System (WWCIS), which is currently being rolled out around the country.

The document says the investment – the total of which is not yet clear – will be focused through a ‘Once for Wales’ approach that mandates common platforms and sets standards and expectations.

Three initiatives

A three-pronged approach is beginning this year, including the implementation of the WCCIS and the creation of an online digital platform for citizens, which will give them information to make choices on their treatment and find appropriate services.

This will be accompanied by work on the development of an ‘open platform’ approach to digital innovation through publishing national standards on how technologies and software should work together, and how external partners can work with the national digital platform.

Alongside this will be an investment in raising the skills level among health and social care workers.

From next year there will be a significant increase in spending on the digital infrastructure, intelligence and workforce capacity, and from 2020 there should be a national data resource for the secure sharing of large scale information.

The report adds that over the next two years the Welsh Government will invest a further £450 million on the NHS and £100 million on social care, on top of the £9 billion it spends annually on the two sectors. It is also looking to develop a long term sustainable funding framework for social care.

Vaughan GethingGething (pictured) said: “This will be a revolution from within the health service. We have to move on from the idea that the hospital is the first or best place for you to be when you are unwell. That isn’t always the case, especially when there are a range of local services that will allow you to remain safely at home.

“I recognise the challenge and this will take time, but change will begin immediately. By the time we celebrate the 80th anniversary of our NHS I expect to see a stronger, joined up system between health and social care that will be fit to serve people for generations to come.”  

Parliamentary recommendation

The commitments follow a recommendation in January from a parliamentary review of health and social care in Wales that it needs more decisive action on digital technology to speed up the integration of its health and social care sectors.

It recommended the mandation of common standards and platforms to support interoperability and integration, a clarification of the Welsh Government’s Once for Wales principles in regard to digital, and a general reassessment of strategic priorities.

Image from Welsh Government, Open Government Licence

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