Matthew Gould delivered a talk about his new job he started last month with NHSX as Chief Executive Officer and his plans.
In the last month he has been on a journey right across the health and care system visiting hospitals, dentists, care homes, hospices, some of the most digitally advanced sections of the system and others which sill run almost completely on paper. The idea of NHSX is that it is a new single lead point for the NHS and for social care working closely with NHS Digital to make things happen from a single place, pulling together the Department of Health and Social Care’s ability to set policy, NHS England’s links to the whole system, NHS improvement’s spend controls and much more. Gould doesn’t believe that he will be starting from scratch and things that went before were not worthless. Gould will inherit a brilliant team with excellent programs in flight.
What is different in 3 key points:
1. NHSX will not go for big bang projects, sitting at the centre and trying to impose single solution systems on 240 different hospital trusts or every CCG. There needs to be freedom for the systems to work out their own answers which we can learn from and share lessons across the system. Gould’s focus is going to be on standards and the most important thing he plans to do will be to set rules so that our systems can talk to each other, be secure and keep patient data safe. Within those rules Gould plans to let local NHS organisations buy or build whatever they need as they know the needs of their staff and patients far better than he could at the centre, enabling each local NHS organisation to control the technology they use. Ideally there shouldn’t be a need for a single giant NHS patient database because all the different databases will be able to speak to each other.
2. NHSX does not plan to try and do everything on their own, the goal is to keep the centre thin and create platforms on top of which other people can innovate from inside and outside the system. Some functions make sense to do centrally, for example screening and booking. There will still be a role for the centre lead by NHSX to procure or build those central functions. Not everything that happens in technology has to be dreamt up and paid for from the centre but rather that the centre provides a platform for innovation, and then doctors, technologists and managers in hospitals can see the needs and opportunities. These are the people who can innovate in ways that we won’t be able to even dream of and do so using the platform that NHSX creates.
3. There will be a focus on capability across the system so that all it’s component parts have the ability to do the things we are talking about, skills, equipment and the money they need to transform. Incremental improvement and not grand digital projects will be a focus with standards and platforms at the forefront, trying to divert resource to the front line where better technology can make the most difference.
What does this mean for the work of NHSX?
Gould has set 5 missions for what NHSX will do based on real world outcomes to deliver on:
- To reduce the burden on clinicians and staff so they can focus on patients.
- To give citizens the tools they need so that they can access services and information directly.
- To ensure that clinicians can access information safely from across the system where it is needed.
- To aid the improvement of patient safety.
- To help improve productivity using digital technology