This week, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, announced a new NHS body for digital, data and technology, NHSX. The aim of this new joint-venture between NHS England/Improvement and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is to work more closely with technology companies to improve IT in the NHS for staff and patients.
Speaking to the HSJ, Mr Hancock said NHSX would lead on creating an “unashamedly open” relationship with the health tech industry.
“NHSX will have an open door to allow discussion with health tech industry that is developing products to make sure that we are harnessing the best innovation to improve the NHS,” he said.
The new body will now be responsible for:
Setting national policy and best practice for NHS tech and data
Managing central IT contracts
Enforcing new minimum standards for NHS IT (e.g. cybersecurity)
Supporting the development of digital skills
However, NHS England still remains responsible for delivery the long-term plan.
NHSX will begin operating from April and take over these responsibilities fully by October. Although it doesn’t currently have any statutory status. NHS Digital will report directly into it, rather than NHS England and DHSC.
A CEO will be appointed to lead NHSX, but it will be staffed by NHS England, NHS Improvement and DHSC employees.
What does the X stand for?
Your guess is as good as ours.
What does it mean to you?
This demonstrates Matt Hancock’s ambition to accelerate the adoption of tech and data use in the NHS
This will mark a significant change in how decisions about the future of the NHS are made, with DHSC policy wonks and NHS England/Improvement strategy bods coming together under a single leadership – what can go wrong?
We expect Dr Simon Eccles, Chief Clinical Information Officer; Will Smart, Chief Information Officer of Health and Care; and Tara Donnelly, Chief Digital Officer at NHS England, will move their teams over to NHSX
As will the policy teams at DHSC, led by Katie Farrington, Director of Technology Digital and Data
We expect Simon, Will, Tara and Katie to form the new executive team, alongside the new CEO, but this is still unclear
We hope this will result in clear messages coming from the centre, rather than receiving different messages from NHS England, NHS Improvement and DHSC
However, these changes will require everyone else to re-think their stakeholder strategy and engagement plans (we’ve already started)
We are unclear on the implications for the private sector which DHSC has jurisdiction over, but NHS England/Improvement does not
Matthew Swindells, deputy chief executive of NHS England, said:
“Bringing together the leadership around this exciting agenda in one place will help us deliver the far reaching practical improvements from the long term plan, improve the working lives of NHS staff and deliver better, safer care for patients.”
Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive of NHS Digital said she expects NHSX “will define” NHS Digital’s future “remit as an organisation” and in its initial form NHSX would “assume responsibility for a small number of areas of work where NHSD has previously led”.
“Within NHS Digital we view NHSX as an important and welcome initiative and we are absolutely committed to working closely with colleagues in NHSX to make this new venture a success.”