“Cutting waiting lists, recovery plans, tech and workforce” Steve Barclay highlights priorities at NHS Confed

At NHS Confed, secretary of health and social care Steve Barclay delivered a keynote talk focussing on the priorities of “cutting waiting lists; the three recovery plans; tech; and workforce” as well as stating “I am protecting the tech budget.”

“Now, I don’t think there’s anything original about a secretary of state being fixated on tech,” Barclay said. He continued to add that “tech is also the way we can tackle the many frustrations that I hear from staff – and that I’m sure many of you in the room hear too. The reason I care about tech is simple: it improves outcomes and helps you do your jobs.”

On funding, Barclay added: “And let me say this: when budgets are tight, tech is often the first thing to go. That is not my approach. I am protecting the tech budget – and those key investments that will help us in the long term.”

The keynote moved on to highlight current work steams to ensure every NHS trust uses an EPR and investment in bed management systems. He spoke about the investment in a new data platform, and digitising frontline services with tech such as staff passports and single sign-on.

However, he noted: “Equally there are areas of great innovation but we have a challenge in scaling that so it is widely adopted. And this challenge is reflected in too wide a variation in performance between similar areas.”

The talk went on to highlight the direction and main priorities, setting them out to be focused on cutting waiting lists; the three recovery plans; tech; and workforce. He added: “It gives a clear direction and backs it up with the freedom and flexibility to deliver it. We know that change happens when people are trusted, have a common purpose and are free to innovate.”

The session ended to highlight some opportunities ahead, such as utilising AI, and shared an example of using AI to improve patient safety in maternity services.

Earlier this week, we covered a keynote talk from Lord Markham, who highlighted how the government is supporting innovation, the introduction of mental health and MSK tools into the NHS App, and a new proposed commercial framework to “improve market access” and “consolidate the buying points.”