What’s happening in digital and data across North East & Yorkshire?

Here at HTN we are pleased to share the first in our series of ICS-focused features, exploring the role of digital and data across the integrated care systems region-by-region.

First up, we’re looking at what’s happening in the North East and Yorkshire. There are four ICSs in this region, covering a huge geographical spread: Humber and North Yorkshire, North East and North Cumbria, West Yorkshire, and South Yorkshire.

Priorities and key themes

In October of last year, Humber and North Yorkshire ICB shared that they are “taking a fresh look at the way digital and data technologies can consolidate and transform how people engage with health and care across Humber and North Yorkshire over the next five to 10 years.” Building on their digital fast forward plan from 2020, the ICB emphasises their plan to use digital to improve service design, delivery and management, with focus on integration and the individual experience; to optimise the value of data to create intelligence which can improve patient safety and deliver better outcomes as well as tackling inequalities; and nurture a “thriving” digital health and care ecosystem in which research and innovation is supported. The ICB’s overarching vision is to “deliver digital and information services and solutions that enable citizens to start well, live well, age well and end their lives well.”

North East and North Cumbria ICS published their four-year digital strategy in December 2020. Their document highlights five interlinked themes: the essentials (getting the basics right); empowering (bringing personalised care closer to home); improving (continuing to advance and innovate); connecting (linking the region and beyond); and learning (using the power of past and present to deliver the future). According to ICS and digital leads in the opening statement, the system aims to support and equip the workforce to embrace digital opportunities such as cloud, standards-based interoperability, robotics process automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership‘s digital strategy was shared in January 2022. The ICS states a desire for citizens to have a choice to use digital channels to access services and monitor their own health; for services to be designed using evidence from data; and for the workforce to be able to work from anywhere in the region whilst being able to access the information that they need. Underpinning these aims, West Yorkshire highlights their focus on developing technical infrastructure; following data and digital standards; helping the workforce to develop digital literacy; ensuring digital inclusion; maximising the benefits of digital research and innovation; and sharing and developing digital expertise.

Last but not least, we come to South Yorkshire ICS. “We have an ambitious vision for digital technology which is based on a number of pieces of work that are already ongoing,” the ICS states. “Our vision is to develop a fully integrated digital service across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, making more effective use of the technical expertise we already have across the region and allowing our digital abilities to develop in line with the advances in technology we’re seeing all over the world.” Key priorities for South Yorkshire include enabling citizens and patients to access their records and data; supporting clinical and strategic decision-making through technology; improving system-wide IT services to increase safety, improve experience, and reduce duplication; transform the way in which the ICS engages with patients and citizens, supporting self-management; enabling clinicians to provide “the best care in all settings”; ensuring that patient information is kept safe and secure; investing in the infrastructure and technologies needed to enable change; and empowering staff, patients and citizens to maximise the potential of new technologies.


  • Priorities and key themes
  • Digital projects and programmes
  • Case study: Lantum on building a resilient, unified workforce
  • Plans for the future

Digital projects and programmes 

So what are some of the digital projects and programmes happening across the four ICSs in the North East and Yorkshire?

In Humber and North Yorkshire, growing the shared care record is a major programme of work. It has been connected with acute and mental health trusts and three of the ICS’s local authorities, and GP Connect information has been linked in. Between October 2021 and 2022, “significant progress” was made, with more than 30 projects supporting the shared care record’s development and expansion, including the sharing of key data sets such as the end-of-life care record. “We have made great progress in establishing how we work with our partner organisations, the pace at which we can work, and how we support them in onboarding, ensuring they have appropriate resources and skills in-house,” the partnership states.

The strategy also shares Humber and North Yorkshire’s work around green priorities through digital means; they are using electronic platforms for meetings, relying more on electronic communications between partners to reduce printing, and promoting telephone and video conferencing for patient appointments where appropriate. In addition, the ICS notes that more partner organisations are moving IT infrastructure to the cloud; working from home is supported where possible to reduce the carbon footprint; and there is focus on asset optimisation and re-use.

When the digital strategy for North East and North Cumbria ICS was published, ICS digital leads commented: “Over recent years we have been laying down the solid foundations on which to build these digital services – to help us meet both the technical challenge of linking complex systems together, putting in the right infrastructure, standards and security measures.”

Professor Graham Evans, executive chief digital officer for the ICS, joined HTN a year after the strategy’s publication to share an update. He highlighted the development of their patient engagement platform, in its final stages at the time, and also shared their work developing a business case for a Trusted Research and Evaluation Environment.

On cyber security, partners across the ICS have worked together to implement a regional Cyber Response Approach. This approach aims to ensure that all organisations follow an appropriate methodology in the face of cyber risks, and places equal focus on people, processes and technology.

With regards to new ways of working, the ICS adds that they have delivered a range of digital technologies designed to support their workforce to function in more agile ways, and successfully secured and channelled funding to organisations within the region so that they can improve their digital maturity.

West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, meanwhile, shares a “number of existing mechanisms to share data for care delivery”, including the shared care record covering primary care and some community and acute care, the Leeds Care Record, and a single shared care record between two of their trusts.

We interviewed Andy Webster and Georgie Duncan from Leeds Teaching Hospitals on the Leeds Care Record here.

On population empowerment, the ICS shares how it is providing their population with access to health and social care held about them, and allowing them to contribute to this data. It is hoped that this will support self-management and lead to the development of richer data centred around each individual.

In terms of supporting the workforce, the partnership has started to implement roaming WiFi services across the region to help the workforce in health and care locations outside of their own organisation. The document adds: “The migration to NHSmail for the majority of our organisations has provided a single email contact directory to make communication easier. Implementation of Microsoft Teams has enabled instant messaging and meeting facilities and support for multi-disciplinary team collaboration.”

Another key aspect of West Yorkshire’s work focuses on research and innovation. Their strategy shares the collaborative relationships the ICS has been building, with working relationships established with organisations such as Yorkshire and Humber AHSN, the Leeds Academic Health Partnership, the Yorkshire and Humber Applied Research Collaborative, and the Bradford Institute of Health Research.

A recent edition of our podcast, HTN Let’s Talk, featured Stephen Blackburn and Leonardo Tantari from West Yorkshire ICB and Leeds City Council. They discussed a variety of digital projects in the area, including the smart cities programme which explores “how we utilise, for example, Internet of Things technology to collect data in real time, and then work that data in innovative ways.”

On a similar note, South Yorkshire ICS shines a spotlight on their Innovation Hub, which aims to “identify and address unmet clinical and non-clinical needs across the ICS, inclusive of all specialities, disciplines and health areas.” The Hub shares a range of case studies providing insight into some of the digital work undertaken across South Yorkshire – one case study describes a project to provide remote treatment for stroke patients, for example; another shares the development of digital care homes; another shares a project designed to offset digital exclusion by developing a ‘clean digital clinic’ for people who might not have access to technologies and/or the skills required to use the tech.

In recent HTN news, last week we heard from Richard Billam, deputy director of ICT at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, on how the trust has leveraged the Microsoft national tenant and implemented a digital solution to enable clinicians to use familiar tech for virtual consultations. Richard said: “Within two years we had rolled out a new EPR, scanned electronic patient notes and implemented electronic prescribing. The trust was absolutely amazing for taking all that on. But the clinical teams, although they adopted the technologies really well, were finding it tiring to work with these processes with their different systems and different requirements…. Our goal was to ensure that we had something that was completely adoptable by the centre. Our user experience would just be a case of going into Teams, seeing the solution, and not having to do any additional work.” 

In December, we were joined by James Rawlinson, chief information officer at South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw ICS and director of informatics at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, for a discussion on Rotherham’s approach to waitlist validation. James described how the digital team worked in collaboration with trust’s strategy and planning team as well as service managers to map out a solution, which led to a validation method based around customised text messaging.

How to build a resilient, unified workforce in the North East and Yorkshire

Next, we heard from Lantum, supplier of a total workforce platform for healthcare organisations, on their work to support the workforce in this region.

How do you get insights into where, when and how staff choose to work across your ICS? Understanding workforce patterns across your ICS is key for building a resilient workforce. Large geographical differences across rural and urban populations can be a barrier to high-quality patient care, but also present new opportunities for innovative solutions that encourage staff to work where they’re needed most.

Understanding local needs in the North East and Yorkshire 

Some of the core issues across the North East and Yorkshire come down to simple geography – big rural spaces with hard-to-fill positions, and urban areas with unique population health needs. And, unfortunately, you can’t change geography.

As part of one of the largest regions in the UK, ICSs in the North East and Yorkshire cover widely different parts of the population across far distances. This creates an imbalance, when the majority of professionals – especially healthcare workers – work and live in urban areas like Leeds, contrasting sharply with the needs of rural areas like Harrogate and Kirklees.

ICS leaders in this part of England have to think creatively to build resilient and robust care networks. Attracting healthcare professionals to work in rural settings is difficult, especially when you’re asking them to add significant commutes if they don’t wish to relocate.

Flexible working and workforce innovations

Because of their size and impact, ICSs have a unique opportunity to be champions of flexible working and meet current healthcare demands.

Flexible staff pools provide ICSs with opportunities to use resources effectively, improve patient care, and boost staff retention. “It’s a way for clinicians to get more control over where and when they work, which motivates them more,” says Melissa Morris, CEO and founder of Lantum.

While in-person shifts are the priority, your flexible staff pool can also supplement in-person care with remote consultations and deliver best-in-class service to patients from all areas in your ICS. This is particularly useful in rural areas struggling to attract local GPs. Managing your staff schedule from a central location and building a bank of remote-ready GPs helps reduce workload from filling shifts.

Learning lessons from similar regions

Our Dorset ICS faced large swathes of rural areas surrounding a small number of densely packed urban spaces. Their solution was to embrace a hybrid approach, using remote consultations to supplement primary in-person care.

Their Our Dorset Passport, powered by Lantum, helps staff maintain professional mobility across the region without being held up by clinical governance paperwork and admin. The program has helped break their reliance on costly agency solutions and allowed them to create a sustainable, robust model built on long-term partnerships.

As a result of their partnership with Lantum, more than 1,000 multidisciplinary professionals work seamlessly across 250+ organisations in the region.

Learn more about Lantum’s partnership with Our Dorset ICS here.

Using Lantum to optimise care in the North East and Yorkshire

By giving staff access to a wide range of work opportunities, free next-business-day payments and the option to expand their horizons beyond the traditional workplace, Lantum opens doors and makes your ICS a more attractive place to find work.

When it comes to finding GPs for remote consultations and in-person work, Lantum connects your workforce management and flexible staff pool with a wider marketplace of vetted locum. It allows practices in your ICS to clearly outline shift rates and adjust them according to supply and demand.

Not only that, it also helps you understand key metrics and staff behaviours to drive even better patient care. Gaining new insights into what drives increased levels of staff satisfaction is essential when you’re working across such a large region. Lantum helps leaders make data-driven decisions that increase workforce resilience.

Across your ICS, Lantum’s Connected SchedulingTM platform can help you build a flexible staff pool that:

  • Provides a single source of truth for rota management across multiple sites
  • Unlocks extra locum support from Lantum’s network of 30,000+ vetted clinicians
  • Simplifies and centralises clinical governance documentation for salaried and locum staff
  • Offers attractive perks to staff like free next-day payments with Rocketpay, free DBS checks, and automated admin

19 ICSs, 300+ PCNs and 1-in-2 practices across England already use Lantum for their flexible staff pools.

Learn more about how Lantum can support your ICS today.

Plans for the future

In their digital strategy update, Humber and North Yorkshire ICB shares their digital transformation investment plan, which provides some insight into the ICS’s digital plans over the next three years.

A roadmap indicates key milestones over the coming months and years. Financial year 2023/24 is described as the “uplift” stage, with focus on building core foundations to lift digital and data across the ICS to all partners, enabling cross-system transformation. High priority activities in this timeframe include delivering digitally mature and enabled domiciliary care; providing uniform cyber security across the ICS; earlier and fast diagnosis of cancer through digital means; improvement and expansion of digital inclusion initiatives; and enhancement of video consultation capabilities.

Looking ahead to long-term goals in 2025 and beyond, the plan focuses on the need to “expand and embed – drive scale and adoption of digital and dat across the ICS to achieve fundamental transformation in health and care.”

Here, the highest priorities include simplification of technical infrastructure across the ICS; delivering digitally-enabled mental health services and diagnostic services; having an integrated any-to-any referral platform in place; connecting care colleagues through a clinical messaging solution; achieving interoperability through diagnostic IT systems; use of an integrated, collaborative EPR; achieving a core level of digitisation for community providers; ensuring interoperability between acute maternity units; and providing digital patient tracking and management to support patients living with cancer.

The roadmap also includes a number of medium and lower priority activities for this timeframe, including system-wide use of enhanced risk stratification for patients on waiting lists; embedding a population health management platform; developing artificial intelligence capability; and establishing robotic process automation capability.

On the topic of the future for North East and North Cumbria ICS, Professor Graham Evans told HTN: “We’re already looking at a whole range of new technologies and techniques, such as AI within our diagnostic services.. We want to try and shift the balance from being a cure and support-type health and care service, with very traditional delivery models, towards earlier diagnostics, health on the high street, and self-care closer to home. That’s our ambition… Technology has a key part to play.” Underlining his point, the ICS’s strategy highlights a number of key areas for future exploration, including wearable devices, portable diagnostics, digital therapeutics and immersive technologies, and robotics and automation.

West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership shares number of actions for the future in the strategy. The development of a person-facing application strategy is one such action, to improve coordination of apps across the area and ultimately support better self-management. The ICS  plans to participate in initiatives to increase engagement and involvement in the use of data for analytical purposes, in order to develop the region’s analytics capabilities at specialist, user and clinician level. The strategy also shares how the partnership will “use our digital network to improve health and care provision and solutions, support digital skills and capability development for our workforce and population, drive efficiencies and reduce costs.”