Sajid Javid faces a “huge task” in his new role as health secretary with a number of important data and technology programs to oversee in the NHS.
The former chancellor replaced Matt Hancock as health secretary over the weekend following Hancock’s resignation over an affair with his assistant.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said Javid has a “huge and urgent task ahead”.
“It must make sure to complete the launch of the fast-paced adult vaccination program to control rates of spiral infection. It must also come up with a credible plan to address an unprecedented scale of care , while rebuilding the confidence of physicians and the wider healthcare workforce, ”said Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the BMA board.
Speaking over the weekend, Javid said the new position has a “huge responsibility” and that his “immediate priority” was to end the Covid-19 pandemic.
Javid’s appointment comes at a time when the use of data and technology in the NHS is at a crucial time.
Last week, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) released its draft data strategy, “Data that saves lives: reforming health and social care with data”, which aims to capitalize on the work done during the pandemic to improve health and care services.
According to the government, the strategy will allow patients to have more control over their health data with easier access to test results; drug lists; procedures; and care plans for all parts of the healthcare system through patient applications, such as the NHS application.
The expected data strategy was part of Hancock’s “bureaucratic mission” and drive the removal of barriers to research.
The strategy is based on work such as the NHS Data Store Covid-19, created to manage various data sources to help the government respond to the pandemic.
The data warehouse is said to have helped improve the understanding of decision makers about how the virus spread; ensure that critical equipment is supplied to the most needy facilities; and to support clinical research.
But the government has been set on fire because of its relationship with Palantir and other large technology companies involved in the data store, specifically around the lack of transparency about contracts and access to data. Javid faces a major task to reassure privacy and public advocates of government involvement with large technology companies.
Privacy advocates and patient groups have called on the government to put protection in place “NHS patients ahead of stakeholder demands for benefits” in response to the draft data strategy.
GP “data capture”
Continuing with the data issue, Javid is expected to oversee the General Practice Data Planning and Research (GPDPR) data service.
GPDPR aims to provide planners and researchers with faster access to pseudonymized patient information. It is a separate program from the draft data strategy, but related to how the government plans to use the data in general.
The plan was much criticized for lack of time, GPs had to inform patients about the program.
NHS Digital announced in May 2021 that the new service would take effect on July 1, 2021, with the scheduled date until June 23 to choose not to participate. After dealing with the reaction of patients, doctors and health charities the deadline was moved to September 1, 2021.
Although NHS Digital was leading the program, it confirmed that the Secretary of State for Health and Welfare has been legally directed to establish it.
Health and care bill
Javid also faces the task of overseeing the health and care bill, who proposed the biggest changes to the NHS in England since Andrew Lansley’s reforms in 2012.
The paper will enshrine integrated care systems (ICS) in the law in an attempt to ensure more joint care, better integration and reduced bureaucracy.
The plan aims to allow the NHS to use technology in a modern way to support staff and patient care, including improving the quality and availability of data, the DHSC said at the time.
In the reforms, it would also be necessary to modify the contracting rules with the commissioners to tender the contracts. Instead, there would be a new policy that would give the NHS and local authorities more flexibility over who would provide health services.
The bill would also give the Health Secretary greater control over NHS England and NHS targets, something Javid is likely to face in strong opposition to parliament.
New NHS Executive Director
The newly appointed health secretary is also responsible for appointing the new chief executive of the NHS in England after Simon Stevens announced his resignation in April.
Stevens will step down in late July, and is expected to choose a new chief executive by then.
The paper’s job specifications revealed he would be the new head of the NHS is expected to “drive digital transformation” to the entire health service.
The selected candidate will take on four key responsibilities, with the need for a broader digital transformation that forms a more prominent part of the role, he said.
Applicants were expected to have a proven track record of “leading a large, complex organization through transformative change, using digital technologies, and innovation.”