Health and Social Care Update

Department of Health and Social Care written statement – made on 29th June 2022.

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Photo of Sajid Javid Sajid Javid Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

I would like to inform the House that A Plan for Digital Health and Social Care has been published today. This document sets out how we will build a more digitised, more efficient and more personalised health and care system.

Earlier this year, I made a speech setting out my four priorities for reform in health; prevention, personalisation, people and performance. We cannot deliver the change we need to see, unless we embrace the opportunities from digital technologies.

We are now embarking on a transformative programme of reforms that will make sure the NHS is set up to meet the challenges of 2048, not of 1948, when it was first established, and also to make the vital changes that are so urgently required in social care.

On 13 June we published a strategy for a data-enabled health and social care sector, Data Saves Lives, which draws on lessons learned about the power of data from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Data Saves Lives includes a range of commitments that will help connect systems and details how we will use data flowing through the digitised health and social care system to continually improve services while maintaining the highest standards of privacy and ethics.

The long-term sustainability of health and social care is dependent on having the right digital foundations in place, and so digital transformation is crucial in achieving and delivering these reforms.

This Plan sets how the delivery of health and social care will change, taking forward what we have learnt from the pandemic, and from tech pioneers across the world. The aim is something that we can all get behind: a health and social care system that will be much faster and more effective, and delivers more personalised care.

Digital is not, and will not, be the only means of access to health and social care services, but through it we can ensure that the needs and preferences of individuals are reflected in the services we provide.

Health and social care organisations and partners from industry can use the Plan to help shape their strategies to digitally transform services for their populations.

The NHS App will be at the heart of these plans. We saw during the pandemic how people grasped the opportunity to have healthcare at their fingertips.

I am determined to make this app the front door to NHS services, and this Plan shows how we will add an array of new features over the coming months and years, with new functionality and more value for patients every single month. My vision is one in which the app is an assistant in your pocket and a permanent feature of how we do healthcare in this country.

With digitised services and a connected system that supports integration and harnesses the power of data, technology can create a transformed health and social care system that is more responsive to the needs and preferences of all people, identifies and reduces health disparities and delivers improved outcomes for everyone.

We have already made huge progress. Over 28 million people now have the NHS App in their pocket, over 40 million people have an NHS login, and most NHS trusts have an electronic patient record system in place. This is on top of unprecedented investment in the digitisation of adult social care, including £150 million of funding for digital adoption that we announced in our recent White Paper.

This Plan sets out the next chapter of this story of digital transformation. It sets out a vision of how we will build a more connected and much more efficient system.

The opportunities offered by digital transformation are huge, with benefits over the next decade running to billions of pounds in efficiencies, economic growth and private investment.

That Plan includes a raft of other initiatives, £2 billion of funding to support electronic patient records to be in all NHS trusts, and help over 500,000 people to use digital tools to manage their long-term health conditions in their own homes.

Just as we are putting the right technology in place, we also need to make sure that people are confident and supported in using it. The Plan also shows how we will relentlessly focus on digital skills, leadership and culture as well as building patient trust, at all levels, so we can make transformation durable right across the board.

This agenda matters more than it did when this pandemic began. I am determined to use the power of technology and the skills, leadership and culture that underpins it, to drive a new era of digital transformation. So that our health and care system, and our country, will thrive long into the future, delivering vast benefits for patients.

I will deposit a copy of the Plan in the Libraries of both Houses.