Health Secretary pledges to overhaul NHS IT system

The South Wales Argus reports that the secretary of health wishes to overhaul the IT systems. Presumably this is for England alone, as there is no NHS at this level of decision making.  Its interesting that slavery is meant to be disappearing, and the modern slave should be robots and computers. Instead of professionals being slaves to their terminals, we need a world where the computers actually help us…. When I was a GP the computer was essential. Losing it was like losing a right hand…. when it was down we offered a much inferior service. We computerised in 1985! The hospitals have no comprehensive notes even now, and when you are seen out of hours the team will have minimal information. It is a scandal that so little progress has been made in IT in any health jurisdiction.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has vowed to overhaul the NHS IT network, saying it would be unacceptable in any other 21st-century organisation.

The “bleary eyed” minister, who replaced Jeremy Hunt in July, said he saw first hand how staff were hindered by poor technology as he shadowed front-line staff during an overnight shift.

Mr Hancock reflected on his stint at Chelsea and Westminster hospital in a lengthy Facebook post, saying the IT has “so far to go” after he witnessed staff reverting to pen and paper.

“Staff were hindered by IT in a way that we simply wouldn’t accept in any other organisation in the 21st century. Tonight has motivated me more than ever to sort this out: interoperable data standards are on their way.”

The West Suffolk MP added: “Operating on a 24-hour basis like hospitals do, you can’t depend on an individual knowing all. Handover is everything.

“This, if anything, makes the importance of improving tech even greater.”

The minister, who wore scrubs, visited wards and sat in with London Ambulance Service paramedics, also praised the “dedication and camaraderie” of NHS staff, adding that the experience would stay with him for some time.


r Hancock’s visit was welcomed by acting Royal College of Nursing boss Donna Kinnair, who urged him to also examine the other “many areas of concern”.

She said: “We welcome the Secretary of State’s decision to see for himself the pressure that dedicated healthcare professionals in the NHS face every day and night and his recognition of their outstanding commitment.

“We are also encouraged that he understands that improvements in technology are long overdue and has already stated his commitment to delivering this.

“However, beneficial though the IT overhaul will be, much more still needs to be done to address the crisis that the NHS faces, and we urge him to not only focus on technology but on the other many areas of concern as well.”

Mr Hancock last month announced a £487 million funding package to create the “most advanced health system in the world”, and vowed to drive culture change, working with staff to embrace the latest technology and innovation.

In his first speech in the role, he told staff at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds: “Tech transformation is coming.

“The opportunities of this new technology, done right across the whole health and care system, are vast, so let’s work together to seize them.”

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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