29 Jul UK Government announces digital health and social care plan
The UK Government has unveiled a new Plan for Digital Health and Social Care, outlining how the NHS can deliver better, faster and more personalised care for its patients. At the heart of the strategy is the utilisation of innovative digital technologies and data across the health service.
Announcing the plan in June 2022, former health secretary Sajid Javid MP explained that the strategy is being backed by a £2 billion pot of funding. Part of this will be ringfenced for an ambitious project to effectively digitise the NHS, rolling out electronic patient records across NHS England. This should improve efficiency, while also making significant cost savings for the organisation.
A further £150 million will be used to drive digital transformation in social care.
Launching the ambitious new NHS strategy, the National Director of Transformation at NHS England, Dr Timothy Ferris, said:
“By harnessing the power of digital and data we can improve both how people access services and the way we provide care.
“Today’s plan for digital health and care sets out an ambitious vision for a future where the NHS puts more power and information at patients’ fingertips, and staff have the tools they need to deliver better and more joined-up services for those who need them.”
What measures will the plan support?
Key initiatives outlined in the wide-ranging Plan for Digital Health and Social Care include:
- The continued expansion of electronic record keeping in the NHS and social care.
- The roll out of lifelong, joined-up health and social care records for every patient by March 2025. This will enable clinical staff to view and contribute to a complete record for each patient.
- Developing interoperability and platforms for data sharing.
- Supporting more people to receive care at home – through measures such as virtual wards, remote monitoring and wearable devices for managing long-term conditions.
- The development of Trusted Research Environments – to ultimately help the NHS lead the way in research without compromising on patient data security.
- Increasing the functionality and features of the NHS app and website.
- Scaling up digital self-help, diagnostics and therapies.
The plan ultimately aims to deliver the ‘four goals of reform’ identified by the Secretary of State. These include:
- Preventing health and social care needs from escalating
- Personalising health services (and reducing health disparities)
- Improving the experience of health professionals providing services
- Transforming performance across the NHS.
In response to the plan, the NHS Confederation’s Director of Policy, Dr Layla McCay said:
“NHS leaders welcome the digital health and care strategy and see it as an important step in joining up health and social care records digitally under one roof. This is essential for enabling better system working and will allow vital data to be shared more widely, helping staff to deliver better care for patients.
“The plan presents an exciting opportunity not only to expand access to care via digital channels, but to accelerate the adoption of evidence-based technologies that will help make care more preventative, personalised and empowering for patients.”
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