Unifying technological bodies makes sense, but the momentum must continue


Industry leaders have said that while there is a logic to streamlining technology bodies within the NHS, there must be assurances that the focus on the work being done will not be lost.

Several organizations have been reacting to the news that both NHS Digital and NHSX will join NHS England and Improvement following the recommendations set out in the Wade-Gery Review.

Part of the change will be NHS Digital becoming the CIO’s leadership, while NHSX will evolve into the strategy function in the NHS’s new transformation direction, which aims to keep pace with innovation. during the pandemic.

The news has been welcomed but guarantees have been sought that the work currently being carried out is maintained.

Chris Hopson, Executive Director of NHS Providers, said: “There is a logic to putting overall responsibility for the problems of the NHS workforce, which are so central to the success of the NHS, with NHS England. similarly, we also understand the logic of centralizing NHSX and NHS Digital leadership in NHS England.This is a further step in streamlining national decision-making processes within the independent bodies created by the Health and Care Act 2012 .

“Trusted leaders tell us that workforce issues are currently their main problem and that the digital transformation is essential to improving patient care and health outcomes. So it makes sense to allow NHS England take responsibility for these areas, along with their core responsibility for the day-to-day running of the NHS.

“The challenge for NHS England will be to ensure a sufficient focus on the important, complex and detailed work that these organizations are carrying out in their current separate forms. The HEE plays a key role in the commissioning and oversight of the NHSX and NHS Digital play key roles in the successful operation of NSH ‘s basic digital services and in enabling the digital transformation of the NHS.

“But we should remember that the NHS still desperately needs a fully funded long-term workforce plan, regardless of where the responsibilities lie. NHS providers also hope to continue to support trusted councils with their agendas. digital “.

Keep the digital pace instead of hindering it

Richard Strong, vice president of international services and operations and director general for Allscripts Europe, Middle East and Africa, stressed that he hopes the work done by NHS Digital and NHSX during the pandemic, such as Aspirant plus programs, will not. discontinued.

He said: “I applaud the work done by NHSD and NHSX, especially in the last 18 months, which I am sure has put a lot of personal and professional pressure on both organizations.

“As they merge with NHS England and Improvement, I hope the pace of digital transformation is maintained, rather than hampered by the inevitable organizational change that will follow.

“While great strides have been made in the need-driven digital transformation, I hope that programs such as the NHSX Digital Aspirant Plus (EPR Accelerator) program will continue at this pace, as much remains to be done to reach the highest system level. wide. .”

Continuing with the good work

Thomas Webb, CEO of Ethical Healthcare, argues that it has always been “strange” for the NHS to have its technology sector working in isolation and said “the move to a more cohesive and united approach to digital in the NHS should be applauded “.

He added: “Going forward, we hope that this new approach will mean that strategies that have been established by NHSX (such as separating the data layer from the application layer) will be more consistently supported as strategy teams. financial, commercial and technical. get closer to NHS England and improve “.

Confusion and chaos

For Tom Whicher, CEO of DrDoctor, the impact on patients and how they access services should not change during the reorganization.

“Between the confusion and chaos that will always come as part of a massive reorganization, we need to remember that for patients and for most healthcare staff, NHS Digital and NHSX have never existed,” he said.

“All they’ve seen is the progress they’ve made digitally with the new tools that have been put in their hands and the adoption at scale that allows them to coordinate care and work differently; this can’t be missed. in the midst of this change when it comes to supporting our NHS recovery is at its peak.

“Alignment is a very positive step to show that digital is integrated with the NHSE, but they will have to work hard to maintain the openness that NHSX has created and the momentum in delivery to create a first digital NHS.”

Supplier perspective

While Andrew Meiner, CEO and CEO of Silverlink Software, highlights how it can also be confusing for vendors when dealing with several different organizations.

He said: “The decision to merge NHS Digital and NHSX into NHS England and Improvement makes sense. For too long, it has been unnecessarily complex for healthcare providers, who have had to deal with multiple agencies. No one really knew. where the lines were drawn between them, and we hope that now the process will be easier and more streamlined for those of us who deal with them regularly.

“Besides, the formation of an only organization indicates a recognition by part of the center that the ‘digital’ is fundamental for the provision of the services sanitary ware and modern assistance. By taking a unique and united approach to digital transformation, I am optimistic that we will be able to continue to make significant technological advances, drive innovation, and continue to drive the digital agenda forward nationally. I just hope the reorganization doesn’t cause significant delays in the short term. “

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