Harnessing technology for the long-term sustainability of the UK healthcare system: Prime Minister’s response


August 11, 2021

Dear Patrick and Jean,

Thank you for your June 3 letter on harnessing technology for the long-term sustainability of the UK healthcare system, and for your attached Council for Science and Technology (CST) document detailing the possibilities of doing so.

I read your report with great interest and was particularly drawn to the points on prevention and early intervention, as well as the recommendation to empower people to take better control of their health and ways to ensure a sustainable future for the National Health Service (NHS).

The government shares your ambition to build on the work in these areas and to continue to pilot this agenda to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of healthcare technology. We fully support the priorities you identify where digital solutions can really help, many of which are particularly relevant to NHSX. As you know, NHSX was created to drive the digital transformation of UK healthcare through digital innovation and the use of data.

Having developed several global exemplary hospitals in terms of digitization in the past, our priority now is to ensure a greater ‘upgrade’ so that all hospitals, and indeed local integrated care systems, meet a standard. minimum digitization and data connectivity. There are already a number of opportunities for fields that want to go further faster, as evidenced by the 5G work carried out by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports and the partnership award recently launched in NHSX.

There is an Evidence-Based Technology Adoption Support Officer within the University Health Sciences Network. By working with Health Education England on a digitally ready workforce, we have invested in skills development across the NHS planks at the front line. NHSX develops a learning system within each region that supports the adoption of digital technologies among frontline teams, while NHS England and NHS Improvement is about delegating the resources of change to integrated systems of care. These strands work closely together, and the result will be capacity building and support for implementation, rather than the creation of a separate body to do it.

As noted in its recently published strategy, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (ATTRACTIVE) revises its process for producing and disseminating guidelines and wants to ensure more digital health functionalities and that these measures reach the front line more systematically NHS teams. This is also linked to work to clearly define standards for digital health products, as outlined in the Digital Technology Assessment Criteria published by NHSX in February.

Thank you once again for writing about these important and timely opportunities to improve our healthcare system using modern technology.

Best wishes as always,

Boris Johnson,
Prime Minister

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