NHSE board highlights planned development of digital workforce plan, digital maturity as a priority, and more

The NHS England board met on Thursday last week, with discussion emphasising the need to digitally support the workforce and highlighting increased digital maturity as a priority over the next two years.

As part of the board meeting, the national director of digital channels summarised progress to date around the NHS App, including the integration of NHS 111 and Pharmacy First, and discussed plans to expand the app’s services with the ambition for “one third of all health interactions to be digital first in the next five years”. We recently shared more insights into the NHS App from Rewired 2024; click here to read more.

The board discussed “planned development of a digital workforce plan”, as part of the NHS’s recognition of “the power of data and technology in improving health” and the need to ensure that staff are “equipped with the skills and experience necessary to manage this”.

On this note, the papers highlight how discussion took place on the approach to managing variation in digital literacy and actions being taken “to ensure the [NHS App] is as user friendly as possible for everyone who uses it”. The board noted that engagement is underway with the National Institute of Health Research with a focus on improving the user experience for individuals signing up to participate in research through the app. “It was also discussed that individuals must ask their GP to make their medical record available if they want to access this through the app,” the board commented, adding assurance that “work is underway to develop the native environment for the app which will improve the scalability and security of the app and support the evolution and improvement of functionality.”

On the 2024/25 budget and allocations, the board states that core service development and transformation investments in technology will continue.

Regarding priorities over the next two years, the board noted a need to “continue transforming the way we deliver care and create stronger foundations for the future”. As part of this, they pledge to level up digital maturity, to continue efforts to connect services to the NHS App, and to implement the federated data platform. Additionally, this work will include developing system infrastructure strategies based on local NHS priorities, for estates and capital investment.

“NHS England will work with systems to develop robust plans for the technology investment announced in the 2024 Spring Budget for the years from 2025/26,” the board adds. “In support of this, we will improve the measurement and reporting of productivity across all sectors.”

The meeting also saw the board discuss the annual emergency preparedness, resilience and response (EPRR) assurance report, including a “deep dive” into EPRR responder training to identify areas of good practice and areas for further development. The deep dive found that whilst some organisations have reported challenges with implementing commander portfolios among command staff, some organisations “are adopting digital platforms to build, record and maintain accurate records of commander portfolios and monitor compliance with organisational training needs analysis.”

Click here to access the board meeting papers in full.

HTN reported on the last NHSE board meeting from 1 February here, highlighting discussion and progress around current digital programmes.