NHSX: new joint organisation for digital transformation in the NHS

The Government has announced the formation of a new joint unit, NHSX, which will be created to bring the benefits of modern technology to every patient and clinician. NHSX will combine the best talent from government, the NHS and industry with the aim of creating the most advanced health and care service in the world to diagnose diseases earlier, free up staff time and empower patients to take greater control of their own healthcare.

Currently, much NHS technology relies on systems designed for a pre-internet age. Patients are not getting the care they need because their data does not follow them round the system. Change has been slow because responsibility for digital, data and tech has been split across multiple agencies, teams and organisations. NHSX will change this by bringing together all the levers of policy, implementation and change for the first time.

NHSX will work with the NHS and the wider digital economy to build world-class digital services. These will improve care for patients and enable medical research. The organisation will use experts in technology, digital, data and cyber security to deliver on the Health Secretary’s tech vision and the Long Term Plan for the NHS.

The CEO of NHSX will have strategic responsibility for setting the national direction on technology across organisations. The CEO will be accountable to the Health Secretary and chief executives of NHS England and NHS Improvement. NHSX will work closely with the Government Digital Service and other central government functions to learn from their experiences and ensure there is continued alignment with the digital, data and technology profession across government.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “Modern technology has an incredible potential to change people’s lives for the better and revolutionise the care they receive.

“Because I care about patients getting the best treatment, I care about the NHS getting the best technology. But everyone knows how hard it’s been to get the NHS to adopt the best in digital. We’ve set out a clear tech vision for the NHS, which underpins our NHS Long Term Plan. Now we’re bringing together the tech leadership into NHSX, which will be responsible for harnessing the true potential of technology to transform care, save lives, free up clinicians’ time and empower patients to take greater control of their own health.

“NHSX will combine some of the best minds from among the NHS, leading innovators, and government into one unit to set national policy, remove red tape and create a culture of innovation to allow the best innovations to flourish.

“This is just the beginning of the tech revolution, building on our Long Term Plan to create a predictive, preventative and unrivalled NHS.”

Matthew Swindells, Deputy Chief Executive of NHS England, said, “The NHS Long Term Plan builds on the significant progress of the last three years and marks a transformational shift to a more digitally focused NHS from the introduction of the NHS App to digitising care across the NHS to joining up GP and hospital records so clinicians treating patients have access to all the information they need, where-ever they are.

“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.