Great NHSXpectations

Written by Ben Moody on 24 April 2019 in Opinion
Opinion

Ben Moody of techUK explains why the new NHS tech organisation has been welcomed by suppliers

Credit: Yui Mok/PA Archive/PA Images

There is a dizzying array of public bodies in the English health system. 

The sprawling organisational chart that starts with DHSC includes NHSD, NHSI and NHSE; though they should never be put in that order. Add in PHE, HEE, NICE, MHRA and the CQC; and CCGs, STPs and ICSs at a local level, and you are still just scratching the surface. 

Thus, it may seem surprising that the launch of yet another body in this space, NHSX, has been greeted positively by suppliers navigating this complex landscape. 

So, what is NHSX for? And why have industry welcomed its creation? 

There are two ways of answering these two questions. 

The simple answer to the former is in NHSX’s mission statement “to make sure patients and staff have the digital technology they need”. 


Related content


This is expanded with a list of responsibilities that includes: developing and mandating the use of standards; driving implementation; supporting the use of new technologies; reforming procurement; cybersecurity policy; and digital training and skills.

Of course, there are already bodies doing parts of this puzzle – but they are often disparate projects run by different organisations. Alignment and acceleration are incredibly difficult, given the number of stakeholders involved. 

One of health secretary Matt Hancock’s first ambitions in the role was to get clinicians directly emailing information to patients to increase data security and reduce delays and waste. It took him months to get the right buy-in from all of the different public bodies in this space. 

With NHSX, that complex landscape becomes one body, with a direct reporting line to DHSC. 

Suppliers are hoping that NHSX also offers them a simpler landscape. A central body with an express remit to drive implementation and support the use of new technologies is a welcome development. And a coordinated and consistent approach to standards and procurement could make a huge difference to the level of investment and innovation in the health tech market. 

The second way of answering the question of what NHSX is for is to look into the politics at play. 

Hancock has been a breath of fresh air at DHSC. In putting health tech at the top of his agenda, he has set about tackling the single most difficult issue in govtech. The problems are well known, though perhaps more nuanced than the secretary of state’s summation that “NHS IT is rubbish”. 

Tackling this is a long-term project and time is something Hancock does not necessarily have. Given wider events in Westminster, the potential length of his tenure at DHSC is hard to predict, and he is highly unlikely to match Jeremy Hunt’s five years in the role. NHSX gives longevity to the Hancock tech agenda long beyond any changes we may across Westminster. 

July’s launch of NHSX will mark the beginning of a new era for NHS technology, that lends itself to all kinds of clichés about new dawns, false starts and proof in puddings. The plans are ambitious, and expectations are high. But the prize of a digitally enabled health and care service is one well worth pursuing. 

 

About the author

Ben Moody is head of health and social care at techUK. The industry association’s Health and Social Care programme is a strong and active player helping to shape the sector’s agenda – click here to take part or find out more.

Share this page

Tags

Categories

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS

Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Could AR/VR augment the public sector?
6 December 2019

Government has only dabbled with augmented and virtual reality so far, but the technology has a range of potential use cases, according to Jeremy Dalton of Immerse UK and PwC

Related Sponsored Articles

Three best-practice measures in the event of a data breach
3 December 2019

To have the best chance of an effective response and a full recovery, organisations should have a robust incident response strategy in place, says BT 

How to take control of your network
26 November 2019

We hear from BT about why delivering a great customer experience depends on your network visibility 

The future of voice: how to successfully transform your legacy voice estate
19 November 2019

Organisations are increasingly having to replace their legacy voice infrastructure as traditional analogue and ISDN lines are being phased out. BT talk about how they can help the transition...

Case Study: Cryptocurrency, connectivity and the cloud
12 November 2019

BT presents findings from cryptocurrency firm Gemini on how they're providing customers with direct connectivity thanks to the Radianz network