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New working group to inform on sustainable tech for the NHS

NHS Digital is calling on providers and stakeholders to join a working group looking at developing a sustainable tech workstream for the NHS.


With technology the central focus of modernising and improving the NHS in the coming years, the community of interest NHS Digital is establishing will seek to ensure future decision making that considers the environmental and social impacts of the digitisation of workstreams as well as financial and health benefits.


NHS Digital has also supported the wider NHS Sustainability Day campaign (held recently on March 21) and has contributed digital posters available to display on screens across any NHS setting, urging NHS staff to consider the sustainability implications of their everyday IT use.


Ben Tongue, Sustainability Manager at NHS Digital, says: “As technological change continues to accelerate, and with digital innovations at the core of much of the NHS Long Term Plan, there is too often a misguided assumption that such progress will automatically create efficiency savings and ecological benefits across the system. While that is possible if we make the right decisions in the coming years, it is not inevitable.


“Data continues to grow exponentially with real challenges around the sustainably of storing it and considering the rules around what new data, such as digital imaging, needs to be kept and for how long.


“Modern tech like video streaming uses huge amounts of energy - it is not automatically the case that patients speaking to GPs or fulfilling outpatient appointments from their sofa using their phone will be more environmentally friendly than driving to the surgery or hospital. There are social sustainability considerations too like loneliness that have to be given proper consideration.


“That is why we at NHS Digital are assembling a community of interest to work towards the long-term aim of ensuring that sustainability is embedded into digital design requirements and decision making. We are today urging technologists across the NHS and other interested parties, such as suppliers, to come forward to be part of that community.”


To help to shape the way healthcare technology is designed, please join the NHS Digital community of interest by emailing: [email protected]