Research and Technology

19.02.19

NHSX: Hancock unveils new digital unit to bring together all of NHS’s tech leaders

Matt Hancock has unveiled the creation of a new digital unit dubbed NHSX tasked with bringing forward technological innovation and will take over many of the digital responsibilities currently handled by NHS England in a bid to speed up the NHS’s digital evolution.

NHSX will have strategic responsibility for setting the national direction on technology across the NHS’s organisations and will take over the NHS digital strategy.

With much of the NHS’s technology relying on systems designed for a pre-internet age, the health secretary said NHSX will aim to create the most advanced health and care services in the world to diagnose diseases earlier, empower patients, and free up staff time.

Combining talent from the NHS, government, and industry, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the plan will bring together tech leaders in the new unit to try and make a change in the NHS’s digital strategy.

The government said the NHS has been too slow in improving IT systems and that the digital leadership and responsibility for digital, data, and tech is too fragmented across organisations to deliver effective change.

NHSX will “bring together all the levers of policy, implementation and change for the first time,” the DHSC noted, but its future CEO will be accountable to the health secretary and chief executives of NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Hancock said: “Because I care about patients getting the best treatment, I care about the NHS getting the best technology. But everyone knows how hard it’s been to get the NHS to adopt the best in digital.

He said the new tech leadership will be responsible for delivering the clear tech vision set out in the NHS Long-Term Plan and for “harnessing the true potential of technology.”

NHSX’s responsibilities will include setting the national policy and best practice for NHS technology, setting standards, championing digital training, reforming procurement, and supporting the use of new technologies by the NHS.

Deputy chief executive of NHS England, Matthew Swindells, added: “Bringing together the leadership around this exciting agenda in one place will help us deliver the far-reaching practical improvements from the Long-Term Plan, improve the working lives of NHS staff and deliver better, safer care for patients.”

Image credit - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

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