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NHSX to develop new Data Strategy for Health and Social Care

NHSX is to launch and implement a Data Strategy for Health and Social Care, as part of measures announced by Matt Hancock this week to streamline processes and reduce excess bureaucracy.

The new report ‘Busting bureaucracy: empowering frontline staff by reducing excess bureaucracy in the health and care system‘, sets 8 priority areas to continue and lock in positive change seen during the year.

One of the priority areas focuses on reducing duplicative or repetitive data requests, and will see NHSX and Department of Health and Social Care launch and implement a new data strategy over the coming months.

The report comes after a consultation process with 600 health and care professionals who identified 1,000 examples of excess bureaucracy.  8 priorities for the short to medium term have been identified:

  1. Data and information will be shared, asked for and used intelligently
  2. System and professional regulation will be proportionate and intelligent
  3. Day-to-day staff processes will be simple, helpful and effective
  4. The government will legislate to make procurement rules more flexible
  5. GPs will have more time to focus on clinical work and improving patient care
  6. Medical appraisals will be streamlined and their impact increased
  7. There will be greater digitisation of services
  8. A supportive culture is needed at a national and local level

Speaking at the NHS Confederation’s NHS Reset Conference this week, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Of course, rules and regulations have their place. They can be the cornerstone of safe and high-quality care. But when left unchecked, rules and regulations can outgrow their original purpose – and they can stifle innovation and damage morale.”

“Learning from the first peak, in July we set up a call for evidence on reducing bureaucracy in the health and social care systems. And I mean the system as a whole. We engaged with staff on the front line and spoke with dozens of stakeholder groups.”

“The contributions we received have been so vital in lifting that x-ray up to the light, and illuminating those daily irritations that make people’s lives harder. Like onerous clearance processes, complicated appraisals, and slow discharges.”

“And of course the changes we need to make don’t always have to be big. In the pandemic, we’ve seen that little things can make a big difference, for instance letting doctors and nurses communicate with patients securely over WhatsApp or providing single logins across multiple different computers.”

“I’m determined that we seize this moment and build on the very best of what we have seen over these past 9 months.”

Data Strategy for Health and Social Care

The report sets out a vision on how data can be shared across the system, and asked for once but used many times.

It highlights that DHSC will consult on changes to primary and secondary legislation for data collection and the COPI notices issued by the Secretary of State in response to COVID-19 until March 2021 will be kept under review and NHSX will recommend they are extended if needed.

NHSX is also leading the simplification of information governance and has established the Health and Care IG Panel for those who provide statutory guidance.

Principles of data collection, sharing and use will be formulated by NHSX, with support from the Care Quality Commission, NHS Business Services Authority, Public Health England and NICE.

Shared records across care settings 

The report then highlights the need for patient record management processes to be shared across care settings and to be quickly accessible through single sign on capability.

It states “NHSX expects all areas will have a basic minimum viable shared care record solution in place by September 2021, focused on the integration of NHS Trusts and GPs and for use in provision of direct care.”

“NHSX are aiming to have all social care providers to have access to digitised care records that interoperate with locally Shared Care Records by 2024. NHSX will also support the sector by enabling all local areas to access linked health and care data to a standard national specification.”

“NHSX will accelerate the deployment of shared care records, providing cross-organisational patient records and care plans to facilitate the planning and delivery of integrated person-focused care across local health and care systems. This work is building on the Local Health and Care Record programme and will provide access to patient records across organisational boundaries, improving the planning and delivery of integrated and person-centred care.”

Single sign on and staff passporting

The report also highlights “NHSX is developing Identity and Access Management capabilities to enable staff to log into systems without multiple passwords and providing clinical staff with access to shared records. This will reduce unnecessary duplication and provide staff with better tools that interoperate with workforce systems. The single sign on will provide secure access to workforce and clinical systems and reduce clinician time moving between systems and applications.”