Report finds government approach to NHS digitisation 'inadequate'

The UK government is making “inadequate progress” on digitising the NHS, according to an independent panel of experts facilitated by Parliament.

The Health and Social Care Committee published a report by the panel, which states that key government commitments on workforce and the use of patient information were either not met or were not on track to be met.

The report notes that overall progress towards improving the digital capabilities of the NHS was “too slow”, and lacked sufficient support and funding. 

Progress was evaluated in the following areas: delivery of integrated health and care records, the roll-out of the NHS app and ensuring a workforce had the necessary digital skills. 

Key issues cited in the report include slow progress towards interoperability, a failure to implement an effective workforce strategy and a lack of digital maturity.  

The panel also expressed concerns that government’s digitisation plans and commitments often overlooked social care services, thereby hindering progress across the wider health and care system. 

Promises made but not delivered

Professor Dame Jane Dacre, chair of the panel, said: “Time again, promises have been made but not delivered. For example, using data sharing to improve research and planning, which we’ve rated as inadequate. However, worryingly, we have seen no clear plan for how the government will address public and provider concerns regarding sharing personal data, which is crucial to address in order for this to be successful.”

He continued: “We heard about issues with interoperability between systems and providers, making it difficult for all parts of the system to communicate effectively, leading to delays and efficiency losses.”

Dacre concluded that while the aspirations to transform the NHS “are to be applauded” the report finds evidence “mainly of opportunities missed.”

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