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Matt Hancock spells out objectives for NHSX

Since becoming Health Secretary, Matt Hancock has been very vocal about the need to make the best technology available to the NHS and to make sure it is adopted in order to save lives and simplify daily work processes, activities and procedures for staff. 


Better use of technology will save time for doctors and nurses that can be spent with patients; provide faster and more accurate diagnosis and treatment; ensure prototypes reach the market and don't get stuck in endless trials; ensure the spread of good ideas between hospitals and Trusts; employ building systems that are capable of communicating with other systems now and for the future; and secure the basics of data infrastructure and patient records.


The next stage in this initiative is NHSX. This is a new specialist unit that brings together all tech leadership from the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and NHSI into one place. It will set national policy and standards that will work across the whole of health and care.


The government's digital policy chief, Matthew Gould, has been named as CEO of NHSX. Matthew is currently Director General for Digital and Media at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. He was previously Director for Cyber Security at the Cabinet Office. 


He has a breadth of experience and a deep understanding of how to make digital transformation happen and will have an important role in supporting Trusts to meet the new technology ambitions. He will join NHSX in the summer.


NHSX will then begin recruiting for other key positions, including a Chief Technology Officer, as part of an ambition to assemble a world-class team of technical experts. Tech experts from NHSX will be embedded in national cancer, mental health and urgent care teams, aiming to bring the benefits of modern technology to patients, clinicians and carers.


Matt Hancock has outlined the three early priorities of NHSX:

* Ensuring tech saves time for staff so they can focus on patients

* Giving patients the tools to access information and services directly

* Creating a system that means patient information can be accessed, safely and reliably, wherever it is needed.


"I want us to create a culture at NHSX that’s aspirational, hopeful, optimistic, and realistic; full of people who respect one another and every single member of the NHS family."


From July, NHSX will mandate the use of internationally recognised technology and data standards across the NHS to ensure all systems can talk to each other. Other plans include unique barcodes for every piece of clinical equipment so essential kit can be tracked in real-time. This will cut waste and save hospitals as much as £3 million a year.


Matt Hancock states that all standards will be published on the web, so that anyone who wants to write code for the NHS can see what the needs are before they begin. He also promises a regulatory approach that is designed for speed so apps can be improved quickly or removed quickly. He adds that there are now more than 70 apps on the NHS Apps Library and over 100 new apps currently being assessed.


"It’s vital we get this right and I’m confident that with NHSX bringing together, driving forward, this tech transformation, we’ll start to create the culture change we need to see in the NHS: innovative, open to change, forward looking. Tech-focused only because we’re people-focused."