NHSX launches on mission to digitally transform the health service


NHSX, health secretary Matt Hancock’s initiative to drive digital innovation in the health service, officially launched this week amid a flurry of publicity on twitter.

The project has been in development since early this year and attempts to bring together teams from the Department of Health, Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement.

NHSX has many responsibilities, including cyber security, setting standards for the whole service, and training a workforce of around 1.2 million people to use digital technology.

Hancock hopes that NHSX will spearhead the largest digital health and social care transformation programme in the world.

Driven by investment of more than £1 billion a year, the initiative is part of the NHS Long Term Plan to modernise services.

In charge is CEO Matthew Gould, the government’s former director of cyber security who will oversee the project pulling together various functions that previously were managed by the DoH, social care, NHS England, and NHS Improvement.

NHSX has money that was previously controlled by NHS Improvement to give it the financial clout to drive the digital transformation that Hancock has championed since he took over as health secretary in July last year.

Among the projects overseen by NHSX is the existing Global Digital Exemplar programme, focused on creating sites of digital excellence.

There is also the Local Health and Care Records Exemplar (LHCRE) programme supporting joining up data across multiple sites, as well as the NHS Digital Academy.

However some NHS digital projects have been closed, including the Medicines Data and Integrating Pharmacy Across Care Settings.

An NHS App has also been scaled back after its goals of bringing together other programmes and applications under one roof would be difficult to achieve.

This work will be incorporated into other work on interoperability, and a project linking pharmacists, optometrists and dentists into mainstream NHS processes.

As the high profile project launched Hancock said that he would spend the rest of the month listening to views of NHS staff.

This is possibly a reaction to the issues with the National Programme for IT, the previous big NHS IT programme that was highly criticised for failing to recognise views of staff, and being over-centralised.

As NHSX launches, its biggest challenge could be to win over staff who were unhappy with how the project was handled a decade ago.