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Seven digital priorities in West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership’s joint forward plan

West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership has shared their Joint Forward Plan, highlighting the role of digital as a “key enabler” in supporting delivery, proposing seven digital priorities across the ICS, and outlining the uses of digital in promoting innovation across the region. 

The first digital priority emphasises the need to ensure that each place has a shared care record available across most care settings, a strategy for moving forward with the shared record, and an agreed data strategy which “aligns with the WY Data Strategy to support improved use of data across the ICS”.

Another of the digital priorities set out by the plan focuses on ensuring that each place understands its cyber security position and notes a need to assess the role of the ICS in supporting this at place and organisation level, including the provision of mutual aid, the sharing of resources, and the establishment of a virtual West Yorkshire operations centre. The plan shares how the first West Yorkshire “war games” cyber event was held in May, stimulating an event in which one of the strategic IT systems was unavailable; the event is to become an annual feature, as “organisations will be updating their business continuity plans in preparation for the event of a prolonged period of system outage”. A West Yorkshire-wide cyber plan is also in development, along with a cyber network for interested parties to come together and share best practice examples.

Ensuring that the ICS understands the digital staff capacity and capability across the region and how to strengthen this where needed is another of the digital priorities. The plan focuses on the need to agree approaches to strengthening digital capacity, collaborating with the West Yorkshire Workforce Observatory to “understand some of the barriers with the digital workforce”.

Other priorities include addressing the risks of outdated legacy systems; maintaining digital networked relationships; embedding engagement between digital teams; and “using the strength and size of the West Yorkshire region to exploit and influence” strategic suppliers”. Examples of the actions in these areas include establishing networks for West Yorkshire digital programme managers and clinical safety officers to gain peer support and work collaboratively together, and aligning a chief information officer to each of the ICS’s priority programmes to “ensure digital is at the heart of any transformation considerations”.

With regards to workforce, the plan acknowledges the work around developing the NHS Digital Staff Passport app to assist staff in working across systems, places and providers. It adds that the ICS is looking to recruit a chief digital information officer and chief clinical information officer to “work together to steer the region to meet its digital ambitions with support from their peers from our partner organisations”.

The document highlights plans to use digital technologies to support specific cohorts; for example, it notes that the ICS will continue to promote digital app resources created to support young carers, and adds that access will be provided to the NHS Digital Weight Management Programme including “targeted and tailored approaches through primary care by ethnicity and deprivation quintile”. For children, young people and families, the plan highlights the development of the ‘Healthier Together’ website which will offer digital information on access to services. It also shares how plans to launch a digital platform across acute trusts in the region to support children and young people with epilepsy.

The plan sets out the role of the West Yorkshire Innovation Hub and its partnership with the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network in supporting the spread and adoption, discovery and improvement of new innovations. In particular, the plan notes the work of the Primary Care Innovation Collaborative in the roll-out of an online consultation tool to GPs across West Yorkshire, which aims to help understand unmet needs within primary care. The partnership notes that the tool has been used by other Innovation Hubs as a model for best practice.

The need for people to access “care that is right for them” is acknowledged, with the partnership noting concerns around digital exclusion; however, it also notes the benefits that virtual consultations can bring in supporting environmental goals. In this area, the plan promotes “digital appointments as standard” where possible.

In January, we covered the tender for the expansion of virtual wards in West Yorkshire, which would expand remote monitoring programmes across the region.

In February, we welcomed Leonardo Tantari, chief digital information officer, and Stephen Blackburn, innovation manager at Leeds City Council and NHS West Yorkshire ICB, to talk about the future of digital in Leeds.

We also looked at what’s happening in digital and data across the North East & Yorkshire, which highlighted the importance of digital literacy in the workforce for achieving West Yorkshire’s strategic ambitions.

To read the NHS West Yorkshire ICB Joint Forward Plan in full, please click here.