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Digital Transformation in the NHS


The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has a longstanding ambition to digitally transform the NHS and to enable seamless data sharing (interoperability) between the many organisations that make up the health and care system.  

DHSC’s previous attempt at instituting a paperless patient record, to enable smooth sharing of clinical information across systems and care settings, has failed. The Department and the NHS are currently refreshing their plans for digital transformation and regard it as essential to delivery of the wider NHS Long Term Plan. 

The NAO report ‘Digital transformation in the NHS’ examines whether the NHS can deliver value-for-money against the latest plans for digital transformation. 

The report finds that digital transformation presents a huge challenge, and that the NHS has a track record of failure which it is not learning from.  

Substantial investment is planned (£8 billion over five years) but costing exercises and assumptions are flawed and the plans are probably not deliverable for the money allocated. Current governance arrangements are confused, and a new digital unit NHSX set up in 2019 to lead transformation has not yet developed its plans and way of working.  

The NAO concludes that there are major technical challenges to overcome around sharing data, and the NHS’s planned actions might make the problem worse. This all points to significant risks to achieving value for money. 

The Committee will question officials from the Department for Health and Social Care and NHS England & Improvement, on how the NHS is renewing its efforts to transform patient services by making use of modern technology and systems. 

If you have evidence on these issues please submit it here by Wednesday 9 September 2020.