NHSX chief executive Matthew Gould has called speculation that the tech unit is disappearing “wide of the mark” and insisted it has a “hugely exciting” future.
His comments follow plans revealed last month, to incorporate NHSX in a new transformation directorate, which will bring together digital and operational improvement teams across NHS England and NHS Improvement.
In a blog post, Gould said the work of NHSX was “speeding up and scaling up, massively” with recruitment underway for two new Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) director roles, leading on data policy and tech policy. An NHSX spokesperson confirmed that the roles have closed to advert with interviews about to take place.
Gould shared the work NHSX is undertaking to simplify information governance guidance, fund more artificial intelligence (AI) innovation and drive the better regulation of AI in digital and healthcare.
He added that NHSX had been publishing standards that will form its open catalogue and is planning to set up the governance structures that will ensure compliance.
The tech unit will also “step up” work to ensure deals on data give a fair return to the NHS through the Centre for Improving Data Collaboration and is preparing to roll out support to NHS trusts in the digital aspirant programme, so they can build basic shared care records by September.
WHY IT MATTERS
Gould said that transformation of the health system would go further than digitalisation of existing services by removing paper or connecting existing services through improving data flows.
“Transformation means taking a hard look at how we currently do things and asking how they can be fundamentally reimagined,” he said.
NHSX is deploying user researchers and service designers to work alongside clinical specialists to redesign clinical pathways and deliver better patient outcomes, Gould added.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
Last month the government published a white paper, outlining plans to reform the health and care system in England, including proposals to “bust bureaucracy” by improving the way data is collected and shared. The DHSC is currently carrying out a review into the use of health data for research and analysis led by Dr Ben Goldacre, director of the DataLab at the University of Oxford.
A data strategy for health and care, led by NHSX, is due to be published in Spring.
ON THE RECORD
Gould said: “Digital has never been more central to the future of the NHS. COVID-19 showed us how crucial it is to be able to intelligently manage scarce resources, to predict localised spikes in demand for ICU beds before they happen, for GPs to be able to maintain contact with patients when they can’t meet in person, for data to flow safely between health and care. If we can use digital to change how we give care, we can transform the NHS for the better.”