Range of health professionals engaged in a meeting, reviewing data on a laptop

New capital investment plan key to NHS digital revolution

Virtually all aspects of the NHS have shifted in some capacity as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but perhaps none more so than in the digital sphere. Upgrading IT infrastructure has become a key, and often necessary, objective for NHS trusts and bodies, but who face already strained capital funding budgets.

So, how do they manage to overcome these challenges and ensure continued, transformative care for all who use or are impacted by their services?

One suggestion from NHS Confederation’s Chief Executive Danny Mortimer is for Government to issue a clear commitment to a detailed, longer-term plan for capital investment across the entirety of the NHS.

Responding to a report by the Public Accounts Committee, entitled Digital transformation in the NHS, Mr Mortimer said: “Health leaders tell us that the response to the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a digital revolution with the creation of shared care records, a wholescale shift of GP appointments to telephone and online, and the rapid adoption of video-based outpatient and follow-up appointments, alongside continuing to provide face-to-face services where needed.

“Patients and frontline healthcare workers have responded well to these new ways of accessing healthcare but our members need support to take them further, particularly around infrastructure improvements and up to date equipment.

“In our recent survey, almost three-quarters of NHS leaders said they did not have enough capital funding to upgrade their infrastructure, including IT.

“Health leaders shouldn’t be expected to raid their limited capital budgets to support these developments and we need to see a commitment to greater financial support from the Chancellor’s one-year spending plan with a commitment to a proper longer-term plan for capital investment in all parts of the NHS, not just the repeatedly announced 40 hospitals.”

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The integration of new technology, such as using virtual outpatient appointments instead of face-to-face reviews of patients in the hospital. Adapting the ways in which our NHS workers serve people has been critical in continuing to provide high-quality treatment, a positive patient experience and preventing Covid-19 transmission during the pandemic. Our healthcare sector has the potential to transform the way we continue to provide essential services while also improving patient care. But how easy is the integration of these innovations into routine NHS practice?

On the 28th of October, at the NHE365 Virtual Hospitals & Technology Enabled Care online event, we will be discussing patient flow and experience, reducing waiting times, reducing the patient backlog and increasing technology adoption. Will you be attending? 

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