News

Saying goodbye to NHSX

By Alec Harris

Last week, NHSX the organisation responsible for driving the digital transformation of health and social care ‘retired’ its brand after a three-year tenure.

Alongside NHS Digital, the two brands will now be incorporated into NHS England and the NHS Transformation Directorate under plans to help speed up the health service’s digital transformation.

NHSX chief executive officer (CEO) Matthew Gould will remain as the NHS national director for digital transformation, as well as a director general at the Department of Health and Social Care with oversight of the joint digital policy and strategy team.

Why it matters?

Recently, NHSE set out plans in its 2022/2023 priorities and operations planning guidance, to use lessons from the COVID-19 crisis to level up digital maturity, aligning with the integration programme to bring NHSE, NHS Improvement, NHS Digital, NHSX and Health Education England together as a single organisation.

The new guidance pledged to “rapidly and consistently adopt new models of care that exploit the full potential of digital technologies” in line with the NHS long term plan to ensure health and care systems have a core level of digitalisation by March 2025.

A look back 

With many successes coming from NHSX, including helping to secure £2.1bn for digital technology in health and care in the Spending Review, we thought it would be worth looking back at the NHSX key victories over the last three years.

1) Digital at the heart of the NHS and social care

With a vision for what health and social care would be in the future, NHSX placed digital transformation at the forefront for implementing change within the healthcare ecosystem. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at how the NHS Operational Planning Guidance has digital running all the way through it, as does the guidance for ICSs. The Social Care White Paper could also not have been clearer about the role digital has to play in the future of social care.

Key victories:

  • Moved digital transformation to the top of the national agenda; with digital being referenced in the first line of the job advert for Simon Stevens’ successor
  • Over 50 NHS trusts being supported as Digital Aspirants to level up technology across secondary care
  • Helped share best practice so other NHS organisations digitise more quickly and cost effectively
  • Developed a digital blueprint for the New Hospital Programme, setting out how digital technologies are designed into new hospital build initiatives
  • Ensured basic shared care records were in operation in every ICS except one, enabling health and care staff to view and edit the same version of a person’s medical history across health and care settings

2) The public adoption of digital technology

From just 2 million registered on the NHS app, there is now over 24 million people (around half the adult population in England) registered.

Key victories:

  • In December 2021, the NHS App was used to register 38,000 organ donation preferences, order 1.5 million repeat prescriptions and view over 11 million GP records
  • Scaled remote monitoring of patients at home, with over 200,000 patients benefiting, including 2,500 patients currently being cared for in virtual wards
  • 99% of GP practices are now able to conduct video consultations, from under 10% in February 2020, so more patients can get quick and easy access to their doctor online
  • Supported clinical teams to transform patient care through the publication of eight digital playbooks from cancer and musculoskeletal to dermatology and eyecare

3) Guidance for frontline leaders

When NHSX was created back in 2019, there was no clear national vision for ‘what good looks like’ when it came to what a good digital NHS or social care organisation should look like. There was confusion over how technology funding was made available to the system and a lack of clarity over future capital allocation. Today, the guidance outlined by NHSX What Good Looks Like framework has answered all these questions.

Key victories:

  • Along with NHS Digital, NHSX helped to save the NHS at least £300m thanks to a deal with Microsoft to provide Microsoft 365
  • Supported NHS Providers to deliver 50 training sessions on digital transformation to NHS trust board members
  • Supported the publication of the People at the Heart of Care White Paper for Adult Social Care, with a commitment to invest at least £150m in digitisation as a key enabler for reform
  • Launched the assured supplier list for Digital Social Care Records, supporting a diverse marketplace of electronic systems that are interoperable with the NHS

As the NHSX comes to an end, we embark on a new beginning for NHSE, a beginning where integration and digitisation take centre stage as the NHS looks to transform the healthcare ecosystem and see us through Covid-19, the elective backlog and beyond.