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  • Lloyd Price

What is NHS England's plan for Tech in 2024-2025?



Exec Summary:


Amanda Pritchard, the NHS Chief Executive outlined the 2024/25 priorities and operational planning guidance recently, highlighting NHS England's focus for the next 12 months.


"Despite the challenges we face, there are real reasons for optimism. We are already putting in place the building blocks for a better future. The £3.4 billon investment of capital in data and technology – from 2025/26 onwards – announced in the Spring Budget will allow us to roll out technology and digital services to improve access, waiting times and outcomes. Coming less than a year on from the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, this investment has the promise to be transformational, for both patients and for our staff."


NHS England's plan for Tech in 2024-2025 is centred around 5 key themes:


  1. Primary Care and GP's

  2. Virtual Wards

  3. Federated Data Platform

  4. Mental Health

  5. Digital Maturity


The NHS, in common with advanced healthcare systems across the world, is facing major challenges in recovering services and meeting the growing needs of an ageing population. But this year the NHS has once again shown that it can rise to the challenge, and real improvement is possible even in the toughest of circumstances – so thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of our patients, our staff and taxpayers.

  1. Primary Care and GP's


GPs are getting help to improve how patients access their services through "Modern General Practice Access." This involves:


  • Digital tools: These tools will help patients get information, navigate the practice (like booking appointments), and ensure their needs are prioritised for the right care.

  • Cloud phone systems: These will offer features like call-backs to avoid waiting on hold, making phone access to the GP practice smoother. 2. Virtual Wards


Virtual wards will utilise tools like remote patient monitoring and rapid diagnostic tests to track patient health and make informed decisions.


  • Increased Access and Utilisation:

  • The goal is to get more than 80% of patients who can benefit from virtual wards to use them.

  • Focus on Specific Conditions:

  • Virtual wards will prioritise patients with:

  • Frailty (age-related weakness)

  • Acute respiratory infections (e.g., pneumonia, bronchitis)

  • Heart failure

  • Children and young people (CYP)

  • Expanding Access Points:

  • Patients will be able to access virtual wards from home ("step up" care) or directly from the Emergency Department (ED) to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.


3. Federated Data Platform


System wide engagement for use of the FDP to support:


  • Elective recovery: Reducing waiting times for non-emergency surgeries.

  • Care coordination: Ensuring smooth communication and collaboration between different healthcare providers involved in a patient's care.

  • Population health: Improving overall health outcomes for entire populations by focusing on preventative measures.


  • Vaccination: Increasing vaccination rates for important diseases.

Challenge:


  • Integrated Data Plans: Different healthcare organizations (Integrated Care Systems - ICS) need to align their data plans and investment plans to ensure the FDP system functions effectively across the network.


4. Mental Health


Investment in technology to support the delivery of mental health services, with a key focus on:


  • More personalised & joined-up: Care should be tailored to individual needs and different healthcare providers should work together seamlessly.

  • More productive: This likely refers to improving efficiency and reducing waste within the system.

  • More accessible: It aims to make healthcare services easier for people to reach.

  • Faster: This means reducing waiting times for appointments, tests, and procedures.

  • More successful: The goal is to improve overall patient outcomes.

These goals align with the objectives of "Frontline Digitalisation," a program focused on:


  • Optimising Electronic Patient Records (EPRs): This means improving the systems used to store and manage patient data electronically.

  • Increasing digital maturity: This refers to making healthcare providers more comfortable and skilled using digital tools.


5. Digital Maturity


System wide focus on improving digital maturity across all care settings:


  1. EPR Rollout: All hospitals that have completed the setup process for Electronic Patient Records (EPR) systems must be actively using them by March 2025. This ensures a consistent and standardised way of managing patient data across hospitals.

  2. Long-Term Planning:  Organizations within the NHS are required to work together to develop 10-year infrastructure strategies by July 2024. This collaborative planning will ensure long-term investment and alignment in digital infrastructure needs.

  3. Modernisation:  There's a push to continuously improve core IT systems and remove outdated legacy technology. This will likely involve upgrading systems and adopting newer, more efficient technologies.


We expect integrated care boards (ICBs), trusts and primary care providers to work together to plan and deliver a balanced net system financial position in collaboration with other integrated care system (ICS) partners. We have invested in significant extra capacity over the last three years. With total NHS funding flat in real terms for 2024/25 we now need to consolidate. At the same time, we will lay the ground to improve and transform the health service for the rest of the decade, progressing the Long Term Workforce Plan (LTWP) and investing in technology.


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