NHS England publishes 2022-2023 business plan with focus on digital

NHS England has published its business plan for 2022-2023, setting out their work in responding to pandemic challenges, transforming delivery of health and care through collaborative system working, and using data and digital technologies.

To begin, the business plan outlines ten key areas in which improvements will be delivered. Digital will play the largest role in the intent to “drive the integration of care and enable change”, which will see the NHS “transforming care through harnessing information and technology”.

The plan states: “The overall strategy for technology in health and care is to digitise services, connect them to support greater integration and, with these foundations, enable service transformation. We are working with colleagues in NHS Digital ahead of NHS Digital’s incorporation into NHS England next year.”

The commitments for 2022/2023 in this area include “continue to invest in the foundations for digital maturity, such as electronic records, infrastructure and connectivity across health and social care”; “establish digital, data and technology talent pipelines and improve digital literacy among leaders and the workforce”; and “build on the basic shared care records in place in all ICSs to increase the range of organisations that can connect to them, and begin work to enable individuals, their approved carers and their care team to view and contribute to the record”. Support will be given to ICSs so that they can “implement a population health and planning data platform and business intelligence tools”.

With regards to digital safety, the plan shares how support will be provided for the “publication of a Cyber Security Strategy for Health and Social Care that will help all parts of the health and social care system build resilience to cyber-attacks, including to safeguard people’s private information”. In addition, it outlines an ambition to “support local NHS and social care organisations to manage cyber risk and ensure compliance with national cyber standards in each ICS and NHS region”.

Commenting on the integration of NHS England and NHS Improvement, the plan notes how the passing of the Health and Care Act 2022 enabled the legal merger of the two on 1 July 2022. “Our ambition is to create a single organisation united in focus and purpose,” it says. “In consolidating the considerable expertise, knowledge and experience each organisation brings, we will ensure that we are best placed to tackle the challenges facing the NHS and deliver even better for patients, colleagues and wider communities”. Subject to the passage of more legislation, and in collaboration with the government, this will see preparations happen for the legal merger of the new NHS England, HEE and NHS Digital in 2023.

Enabling change within the NHS also includes the aim to support the Net Zero ambition; the plan notes that “this is a priority for every trust and ICS, and they are meeting this challenge; all have developed their own, localised Green Plan”. The plan commits to “support energy and efficiency and renewable energy schemes”; “introduce a 10 percent weighting in all tenders for net zero and social value”; and “optimise the prescription and use of inhalers to improve outcomes from asthma and COPD”.

Elsewhere in the plan, digital plays a role in helping the NHS with its staffing and workforce challenges; the plan sets out a need to “support the adoption of interoperable e-rostering, the Digital Staff Passport and the NHS Staff App”.

As part of the efforts to “improve mental health services and services for people with a learning disability and/or people with autism”, the plan outlines how the next two years will see “reasonable adjustments provided to support accessibility”, including “the ongoing development of the reasonable adjustments digital flag and pre and post-diagnostic support”.

Under the banner of preventing ill health and tackling health inequalities, the plan notes: “We will continue to support the delivery of evidence-based NHS prevention programmes to optimise care for cardiovascular disease (CVD), and reduce smoking, obesity and alcohol intake.” As part of this, the plan shares an intent to “expand the Digital Weight Management Programme”.

To read the business plan in full, please click here.