Amanda Pritchard highlights role of digital and tech in speech to NHS Providers Annual Conference

In last week’s speech to the NHS Providers Annual Conference, Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, highlighted the role of virtual infrastructure, digital platforms and data architecture as “increasingly important” in the health service for their potential to “support patients to get what they need more easily”.

Referring to the NHS App, Pritchard shared that in September 2023 the app was used to book or manage 3.4 million secondary care appointments.

On electronic patient records, she also noted that Sheffield Health and Social Care and Hillingdon Hospitals recently completed their go-lives, helping the NHS in delivering its target for 90 percent of trusts to have an EPR in place by December this year. HTN covered the news here.

“Delivering that switch isn’t easy,” Pritchard commented. “But it’s worth it, because that’s the underpinning work that will enable us to benefit from new technologies.” These technologies include the Federated Data Platform, which she said [15 November] NHSE is “working hard to finalise” so that NHS teams can be provided with “powerful tools to bring together the data you hold in different systems and harness it to improve care.”

These tools have “already shown [that they] can make a real difference,” she added, highlighting the example of the use of digital to support discharge planning in North Tees and Hartlepool, “which means patients going home with the right support faster, long stays falling by over a third despite admissions growing, and almost 10 hours of clinician time freed up each week”.

Pritchard also commented on the role of data sharing in the NHS with regards to “increasing productivity and continuous improvement”. She praised NHS teams for “already delivering that” through programmes including GIRFT, Further Faster NHS IMPACT. Here, she provided an example from University Hospitals Leicester, where “meticulous action to improve systems and processes” has seen “their elective waiting list fall by more than 11,000 in a year, and a 68 percent fall in long waits for diagnostics”.

We covered an update on NHS IMPACT last month which saw NHS England encourage NHS leaders to adopt five key practices for an improvement-led approach. We covered more on the programme here.

In recent news from NHSE, we reported on the roadmap designed to support roll-out of teledermatology; the opening of a £300 million procurement framework for digital pathways in primary care IT; and NHSE’s plans to hold “large-scale engagement events” to gather public views on digital and data.