Matthew Gould ‘We want to do some important things differently’

July marked the official launch of NHSX, a new organisation to oversee digital, data and technology. The industry responded positively to the new unit and its initial announcement to focus on interoperability, standards and platforms.

This week Matthew Gould published a blog to provide an update on what progress the organisation has made in its first six months. Gould opened “we launched NHSX to rapturous applause.  Or, to be exact, to a mixture of hope, scepticism, indifference and bemusement. An initial flurry of public activity has been followed by six months of a lower public profile, leading some to wonder what we’ve been up to in the meantime.”

Gould said the organisation wanted to do some important things differently and commented that it take times to get it right and see it through.

More recently Matt Hancock announced a new digital aspirant programme, with limited information published. Gould said “We’re shifting the funding we give the frontline for digitisation from the GDE programme (which has worked well, and established a series of exemplars showing what digital can do) to a new digital aspirant programme.”

He talks about the importance to move away from a burdensome approach to governance and re-iterates the NHS App should be a ‘thin’ app for innovators to build on.

In terms of progress made, Gould highlights there has been progress made on standards, “Working closely with NHS Digital, we’ve consulted on and are testing standards for medications, and in the next year will move those to full implementation across all care settings. We’ve got a draft specification for a common pathology catalogue for blood sciences, and have drafted a position on pathology messaging for consultation. The rollout of SNOMED has been finalised for general practice, with initial engagement with mental health services underway. And we’ve been working on improving identity management across the NHS by integrating ESR and NHSMail as well as enabling a pilot for use of digital staff passports.”

Other progress includes introducing national services such as the record locator and the event management service, that 107,000 appointments have been made using the NHS App, and the recent launch of a £140 million AI fund.

Gould also stated “We will take a new approach to scaling applications which have proved they can improve productivity, and are working out how we can help stretched providers deploy them.”

“With HEE, we will scale up sharply the misnamed ‘soft stuff’ – building the skills, confidence and leadership in digital transformation, and underpinning it with professions for clinical and non-clinical staff working in tech so they get the support, accreditation, training and status they deserve.”

“We want to provide much more commercial support to the frontline, to reduce the asymmetry between big suppliers and the providers buying from them.   We have been working with NHSD and other partners to set up a small team that can work out what should be negotiated nationally, and support the frontline for the things they are negotiating locally.  And we will have a Centre of Expertise specifically to advise on any arrangements involving data.”

Gould closed “The biggest constraint on all this is our own bandwidth.  So we’ve been recruiting to fill a series of new posts that will give us the expertise and capacity we need.   We’ve appointed our first permanent CTO, and we have just announced our new CNIO. We will soon be announcing our new CIO and Chief Commercial Officer.  And there are a range of other jobs – for example, we’ll be appointing a Director of AI, and we’re in the middle of appointing leads for each of the five NHSX missions.”