NHSX will take over the digital transformation reins in the NHS

The special unit will be the like GDS for the NHS

NHS Trust building

The UK government has announced a special unit to take digital transformation within the NHS and it isn't NHS Digital.

The NHSX has been created to strategically set the national direction of technology across the organisation and its, as yet to be named, CEO will be accountable to chief executives of NHS England and the health secretary, Matt Hancock.

"Everyone knows how hard it's been to get the NHS to adopt the best in digital,' said Hancock. "We've set out a clear tech vision for the NHS, which underpins our NHS Long Term Plan. Now we're bringing together the tech leadership into NHSX, which will be responsible for harnessing the true potential of technology to transform care, save lives, free up clinicians time and empower patients to take greater control of their own health.

"NHSX will combine some of the best minds from among the NHS, leading innovators, and government into one unit to set national policy, remove red tape and create a culture of innovation to allow the best innovations to flourish."

How much the NHS relies on legacy technology, such as fax machines and paper records has been well documented and there is a worry that patients are missing out on the best possible care because there aren't sufficient systems for using data.

According to the government, digital transformation within the NHS has been slow due to digital, data and tech responsibilities being split across multiple teams and organisations. To remedy this, the government has created another organisation, which sounds contradictory, but NHSX will work with each department to bring each together.

The organisation will use experts in technology, digital, data and cyber security to deliver on the Health Secretary's tech vision for the NHS. That vision, it seems, doesn't appear to have much room for NHS Digital, the organisation's original IT and tech department. In November, Hancock announced that 500 full-time jobs would be cut from NHS Digital in a bid to reduce and restructure its workforce.

The chief executive of NHS Digital, Sarah Wilkinson, called it a "new joint venture between the organisations who currently define digital strategy and commission digital services" and said it would create cohesion by concentrating work and capabilities in one unit.

"Within NHS Digital we view NHSX as an important and welcome initiative and we are absolutely committed to working closely with colleagues in NHSX to make this new venture a success," she said.

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