NHS replaces lead for cancer screening digital transformation programme

Geraint Lewis, chief data officer at NHS England has been replaced by Dr Simon Eccles, deputy chief executive and chief clinical information officer at NHSX, as the new senior responsible officer for the ongoing digital transformation of cancer screening.

This replacement has come amid the digital transformation of England’s ageing cancer screening IT infrastructure missing a target completion date during the pandemic.

Two high-profile failures in the screening programme brought forward the digital transformation programmes in 2018, which includes taking cervical screening systems off the National Health Application and Infrastructure Services software system.

The transformation was planned for 2020, according to evidence given to the Public Accounts Committee in 2019 by Sir Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive.

WHY IT MATTERS

The transformation plan includes taking cervical screening systems off the National Health Application and Infrastructure Services software system.

At the beginning of the year, NHS Digital announced that the National Cervical Screening call and recall system will be moved to a new IT system in 2021. The statement said that “precise timings will be confirmed when the current pressures on the NHS due to COVID-19 have subsided.”

According to meeting papers from the screening transformation steering committee seen by HSJ, work began on this interim measure in 2019.  

The new call/recall function will support the national screening programmes, which are currently for cervical, breast and bowel cancers, and abdominal aortic aneurisms and would be a short-term measure while the NHS develops a strategic screening platform.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

At the Digital Health Rewired event last week, health secretary, Matt Hancock announced that 30 trusts will receive funding to boost their digital maturity and seven trusts will receive up to £6 million over three years as part of the NHSX Digital Aspirants programme.  

Recently, concerns have been raised that staff working on NHS test and trace call centres used their personal email accounts to handle individuals’ health data.

ON THE RECORD

An NHSX spokesperson told Healthcare IT News: “The modernisation of screening and in particular the digital transformation of these services, will ensure a more personalised service for the public and ultimately improve patient care and clinical delivery. To reflect it as a priority of the digital programme, it will be led by NHSX’s deputy chief executive and chief clinical information officer, Dr Simon Eccles.”  

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