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Government rejects action to boost NHS specialist digital workforce

6 September 2023

Ministers have rejected a call by the Committee to pay higher salaries to boost the NHS’s digital workforce to allow it to compete with the private sector. 

In its response to the Committee’s Digital Transformation in the NHS report, the Government cites one of the key issues as the “inflexible” NHS Agenda for Change pay structure. The report had identified a shortage of skilled digital professionals as a barrier to digital transformation in the NHS.

The majority of recommendations made by the Committee have been accepted outright or in principle, including its support for a nation-wide standards framework for all ICSs (Integrated Care Systems) aimed at improving interoperability and data sharing across systems.

The Committee welcomes Government plans to communicate and promote a new version of the NHS App however the Government rejected the recommendation for an accreditation scheme for third-party healthcare apps to identify those verified by the NHS.

Chair's comment

Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee Steve Brine MP said:

“We are concerned that the Government has rejected our call to help the NHS as it battles to recruit and retain the specialist digital workforce needed now. Ministers blame an ‘inflexible’ pay structure, yet it is in their hands to change it and we would argue is rather self-defeating to leave things as they are in what is an extremely competitive, and global, workforce.

“Increased digital transformation of NHS services could help tackle backlogs and what is needed is the freedom to recruit and keep the outstanding talent who can bring this about through higher pay and bonuses.

“In responding to our report, the Government appears to have also missed an opportunity to introduce an accreditation scheme to verify third-party healthcare apps which would have empowered people to use safe and trusted apps to prevent ill-health. We will be returning to all these issues.”

Further information

Image: PA