Representing estates and facilities professionals operating within the  



Prepare for a digital transformation

The NHS Long Term Plan sets a target for all providers across acute, community and mental health settings to advance to a “core level of digitisation by 2024, including clinical and operational processes across all settings, locations and departments.” 


The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has been very clear about his plans for a “tech transformation” across the NHS. Given recent experiences around failing IT, cyber and other security issues, the Long Term Plan acknowledges that this target to replace old paper-based systems must be based on robust, modern IT infrastructure services for hosting, storage, networks and cyber security.


The government has pledged to up the pace for digital transformation of the NHS. The Long Term Plan confirms a raft of initiatives to speed up the pipeline for development of innovations, accelerate the uptake of proven, affordable innovations, expand current NHS England 'Test Beds', invest in spreading innovation between organisations and support the global spread of UK-led innovations.


Key milestones for the development of a more digital NHS are not far away. 

* 2019 Introduction of controls to ensure new systems purchased by the NHS comply with agreed standards, including those set out in 'The Future of Healthcare'

* 2020 Five geographies will deliver a longitudinal health and care record platform linking the NHS and local authority organisations, with three additional areas to follow in 2021

* 2020/21 People will have access to their care plan and communications from their care professionals via the NHS App

* 2021 By summer 100% compliance with mandated cyber security standards to be achieved across all NHS organisations in the health and care system

* 2021/22 Systems that support population health management to be in place in every Integrated Care System across England, with a Chief Clinical Information Officer or Chief Information Officer on the board of every local NHS organisation

* 2022/23 The Child Protection Information system to be extended to cover all healthcare settings, including GPs

* 2023/24 Every patient in England to be able to access a digital first primary care offer

* 2024 All secondary care providers in England, including acute, community and mental healthcare settings to be fully digitised, including clinical and operational processes across all settings, locations and departments. 


Sarah Wilkinson, Chief Executive of NHS Digital confirms it will support NHS organisations in the digital transformation. "We know how challenging it can be for organisations, particularly those under constant pressure to deliver critical services, to adopt new technology and digital systems. We are completely committed to supporting NHS organisations on all aspects of this journey from technical education, to integrating new technology into services and care pathways to the design of highly usable and accessible patient-facing solutions." 


None of the detail in these milestones specifically references estates and facilities functions, but the requirement for all operational processes and across all departments to be included in this move would seem to include E&F activities as well. This begs the question whether every hospital will have to digitise these processes as well, for instance, portering, cleaning, infection control and patient meal ordering systems. The detail of this Long Term Plan is still being digested and we will no doubt return to this question in the near future.


Read our other articles about the Long Term Plan: 

The Long Term Plan skims over E&F services

Integration key to success of service transformation


Click here to download the Long Term Plan.