MPs launch inquiry into government progress on digital transformation within NHS

A new inquiry into the government’s progress in achieving a digitally-enabled health system across the NHS has been launched by MPs, to assess progress to-date and the further steps required.

The Health and Social Care Committee has set out 11 key questions to be addressed, that include ‘how the government can communicate the benefits of digital approaches in healthcare to the public and provide assurances as to the security of their data’, to understand the process of ‘dealing with the legacy IT systems across the NHS’ and to compare ‘IT platforms used in NHS hospitals in England with those used in hospitals in the United States’.

Understanding what progress has been made on interoperability will be explored, as well as how the government can ‘effectively foster co-operation between the NHS and the private sector’.

The inquiry is also set explore the timescales for incorporating genomic data into patients’ medical records, additional training required to develop a digital workforce, what functions should be performed on the NHS app, and how to avoid digital inequalities when implementing digital transformation.

The announcement noted the independent Wade-Gery review of data, digital and tech, highlighting the “NHS was too far away from its digital transformation ambitions”, leading to the Health and Social Care Committee calling for NHS England to urgently produce a roadmap.

Publishing news of the inquiry, the UK Parliament website states that along with exploring the current use of digital technology and how it needs to change in order to deliver improved patient care, “the inquiry will consider key aspects of NHS digital transformation such as digitalising health and care records for interoperability so that they can be accessed across primary, secondary and social care.”

Health and Social Care Committee Chair Jeremy Hunt MP said: “The success of the RECOVERY dexamethasone trial leading to hundreds of thousands of lives being saved shows what can be done when you put the right data in the hands of medical researchers. Though the government has committed itself to bringing about a digital transformation of the NHS an independent review found it was way off achieving this goal. We will be challenging Ministers on what actions they are taking to put data, digital and tech at the heart of transforming not only the NHS but the lives of patients.”

People who wish to submit their thoughts on the key points can do so here. The deadline is 10 June.