NHSX - Have we seen it all before?

You may be rather sceptical over the recent launch on 1st July of the government’s new digital transformation body. You might think “we’ve seen it all before” or “why will it be any different this time?” but maybe we need to have a bit of faith in what Matthew Gould is setting out to achieve. Isn’t it, after all, about time that the NHS gets their digital transformation agenda right?

The mission

Guided by the Department for Health and Social Care’s vision, Matthew Gould has set out 5 missions;

1.) Reducing the burden on clinicians and staff so they focus on caring for patients;

2.) giving citizens the tools to access services and information directly;

3.) ensuring clinical information can be accessed safely wherever it’s needed;

4.) aiding the improvement of patient safety;

5.) and improving NHS productivity with digital technology.

The good news is that the body will not wipe out all that has gone before. It has been recognised that a lot of good work has already been achieved and apparently no grand projects, such as single NHS database are planned. What NHSX is going to focus on is; setting national policy; developing best practice for NHS tech; enforcing IT standards; improving procurement; developing digital skills and culture.

Driving all of this is the fact that decision-making is currently too fragmented and the speed at which the NHS can access innovation is too slow, says Hadley Beeman, the CTO of NHSX.

The priorities

  1. is also going to be responsible for spending on NHS technology in England and after completing a review in June, has reduced the number of digital transformation programmes in the NHS from 30 to 10 priority areas.

1. NHS app and citizen ID

2. Digital child health and maternity

3. Integrating community providers (including pharmacists, optometrists, dentists and ambulances)

4. Screening

5. Booking, referrals and appointments management

6. Standards (including medication standards)

7. Primary care

8. Urgent and emergency care

9. Social care

10. Local capability


Where does this leave ‘NHS Digital’?

Although we have been told that NHSX will oversee the work of NHS Digital, we do not quite know the detail about how it will impact on their work.

It has been reported that NHS Digital chief executive Sarah Wilkinson had reassured her staff that while she expects NHSX to outline their future and "assume responsibility for a small number of areas that NHS Digital had previously led", its "book of work" wouldn't change in the near-term, although there may in future be "strategic shifts that manifest in changes to the work that we are commissioned to deliver".


It seems obvious to suggest that the boundaries will need defining clearly and the sooner the better to avoid duplication and unnecessary overspending.


What are the experts saying?

There is no denying that NHSX faces a huge task, but also, a huge opportunity to get digital in the NHS right and is seen to be the step change required to fulfil the long term plan.

Undoubtedly however there seems to be an air of scepticism around the new quango’s launch. What will make this different to the many that have come and gone before, is perhaps not totally clear. Matthew Gould has set himself a 2 year time frame for making progress on his mission, which will hopefully motivate everyone in the health tech industry to ensure best practice and ultimately improve patient care.

We at RotaMaster look forward to the opportunities the new digital framework may bring and continuing to provide value added tools to clients in the healthcare sector.


Digital Health – There is world class innovation in the NHS 1 July 19

Computer World UK – What is NHSX? Inside the government’s new health tech unit 8 July 19