NHS Long Term Plan – PUBLIC Opinion

Mia Millman

07 January 2019

PUBLIC and its GovStart companies respond to the NHS Long Term Plan.

Earlier today the NHS unveiled the NHS Long Term Plan, detailing its vision for the next 10 years. It follows the release of Matt Hancock’s tech vision: The Future of Healthcare last year and, in line with the Health and Social Care Secretary’s focus on digital transformation, features a chapter on digitally-enabled care. Though not by any means the first long-term vision for the NHS, this paper has a far greater focus on digitisation than previous iterations.

From universal digital GP access (“digital first”) to plans to expand the scope of NHS Apps and replace the slow and clunky technology – such as fax machines – used by NHS staff, it is indicative of where the NHS is going and the increasingly prominent role of technology. Indeed, the report itself notes: “Virtually every aspect of modern life has been, and will continue to be, radically reshaped by innovation and technology – and healthcare is no exception.”

Several of our HealthTech GovStart companies – and members of the PUBLIC team – have shared their opinions on the NHS Long Term Plan:

Dr Barney Gilbert, Co-CEO of Forward Health:

“If we are to create a 21st century health service that can streamline provision and make the most of the budget available, then we must heed the comments made by Chancellor Philip Hammond today; “To meet this challenge, we must go back to our roots. We must be innovative… We in Britain built a health system…that pushed the boundaries and must do so again to deliver the needs of an ageing population in the 21st century.”

“Whilst our NHS services are in dire need of this additional funding, it’s innovation that will stop cash injections from being sticking plasters and instead turn them into pivotal moments for progress. Without innovative approaches to the integration of services, this simply won’t happen.

“The NHS has only recently started shedding its reticence towards innovation, despite years of calls to upgrade and digitise the service. Indeed, a few pioneering Trusts are now embracing new solutions across the board. But to achieve the level of cross-sector integration we need, we must fast-track this culture shift and explore new ways of increasing efficiency and breaking down silos. Empowering NHS staff with the digital tools they need to do their jobs is the place to start.

“Many of these innovations are simple; the technology already exists. We can ditch archaic technology, such as fax machines, landlines and pagers, and provide clinicians with new ways of communicating between and within wards via apps and bespoke messaging platforms. We can reduce the waste linked to staffing inefficiency by introducing new, fit for purpose platforms for recruiting and retaining staff. We can digitise appointments and move away from paper-based referrals at all levels through cloud-based software.

“Through these changes, we can create communication pathways from the point at which a patient comes into contact with the NHS all the way through to their discharge; allowing doctors and patients alike to access the information they need quickly. And that’s just for starters. These digital innovations will break down communications challenges to allow clinicians to treat patients quicker, reduce the burden of admin placed on medics, and provide NHS staff with the capacity needed to do their jobs properly instead of focusing on keeping their heads above water.”

Daniel Korski, CEO and Co-founder of PUBLIC:

“The NHS is no stranger to long-term plans but this tech-savvy, well-funded strategy looks set to be different. Indeed, there is probably no better time than now to push healthcare transformation given the advances of technology like AI and the growing need for a step change in prevention and treatment.”

Dr. Mahiben Marithappu, CEO of Cera:

“The NHS Long Term Plan’s focus on technology and out-of-hospital care is highly welcome. This combined with the Government’s record investment places the NHS on a strong footing to embrace the imminent health-tech revolution and offer world-class services. This however must be combined with a clear strategy and funding package for social care if it is to succeed.”

Hanna Johnson, COO at PUBLIC: 

“Better use of data and digital technology underpins much of what is talked about in the NHS Long Term Plan. We are already seeing innovative companies like Cera doing things differently in social care, Patchwork backing our workforce, and Flynotes helping the NHS to get the most out of taxpayer investment. In the coming years, GovTech will help transform all aspects of health and social care, so it’s right that it is a central part of the Government’s long term plan.”

Johnny Hugill, Researcher at PUBLIC:

“Government is right to recognise that technology should be at the forefront of any health and social care strategy. The key challenge now is to make sure that trusts are buying the right technology to deliver on these ambitious digital goals. To guarantee state-of-the-art-technology, as well as greater value for money for the taxpayer, it is crucial that procurement is opened up to smaller companies and startups, instead of relying on the same behemoth suppliers responsible for the outdated legacy systems we have today.”

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