DH names 12 exemplar sites to drive digital NHS services

The Department of Health (DH) has named 12 trusts as new global exemplars to pioneer best practice and the use of technology across the NHS, allowing patients to access more services via their smartphones and mobile devices.

Responding to a review of NHS technology conducted by renowned US clinician Bob Wachter, who will be presenting his findings at the first day of NHS Expo today, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has announced a raft of plans, including details of a new academy dedicated to training NHS staff in digital skills.

The 12 exemplar sites – listed below – will receive up to £10m and will be expected to drive pioneering approaches to digital service such as enabling patients to register with a GP, access healthcare records and get medical advice via their smartphone all in one place.

According to the DH, these services will be available by the end of next year and will make it easier for patients to access public services on their smartphones.

Some of the plans Hunt will expand on at NHS Expo include the 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 to guide patient choice; and a relaunch of the NHS Choices website to improve the range of services (it will relaunched as NHS.UK).

Taking inspiration from the ‘blue button’ app in the US, the new NHS.UK site will also allow patients to securely download their personal health records, giving them instant access to important healthcare information, such as prescriptions and test results.

Matthew Swindells, NHS England national director for operations and information, said: “Smart technology is set to transform the way patients can access NHS services and manage their own health.

“We are already seeing the benefits to patients and NHS staff as we harness this potential, and we are investing hundreds of millions to bring NHS technology into the 21st century. Digital innovations will make our services more efficient, save money and help the NHS to deliver its ambitious programme of change.”

From today, the MyNHS website will also 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.

Jeremy 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.”

He added that this means “on 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 trusts, as well as receiving funding, will also partner with an international organisation of their choice to take advantage of further expertise.

Universities will be invited to host the new NHS digital academy, which will help train NHS professionals in the key skills they will need to deliver next generation, digital healthcare.

NHS Digital chief executive Andy Williams said: “Our purpose at NHS Digital is to harness information and technology to deliver better health and care. That’s why I welcome the secretary of state’s announcements today and look forward to leading the delivery of better digital services for the NHS and in social care.”

The global exemplar trusts will be:

  • 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.

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