NHSE on developing an infrastructure strategy highlights need to support “modern, digitally enabled patient care pathways”

NHS England has published guidance for integrated care systems on developing a 10-year infrastructure strategy, stating that a “a fit for purpose estate” supports the delivery of “modern, digitally enabled patient care pathways”.

The guidance highlights areas of focus for effective infrastructure planning as well as key considerations for ICSs, with NHSE urging that ICS leaders ensure a clear understanding of how the digital model along with estate, equipment and workforce models contributes to the delivery of the overarching system strategy, national priorities and related clinical pathways.

Data should be an area of focus, with NHSE emphasising the need for ICSs to establish baseline data for demand and supply, as an “appropriate building block” for long-term strategic estates planning.

When developing an infrastructure strategy, the guidance notes that ICSs should use data analysis to set out a picture of the current landscape as well as the vision for the future, including data on current estate age, backlog maintenance, critical infrastructure risk, non-clinical space, utilisation, possible disposals and investment to date.

Additionally, ICSs should include within their overall vision perspective on “how digital transformation and innovation will be used to improve capacity in built and other assets while achieving the aims of the Digital Clinic Safety Strategy”.

The guidance can be found in full here.

In other news from NHSE, priorities and operational planning guidance for 2024/25 have recently been shared, with “strong digital foundations” highlighted as “essential for transformation, supporting access, quality and productivity”.

HTN also reported on NHSE’s guidance for access to diagnostics on virtual wards, which sets out priority tests, measures and assessments for virtual ward teams.

Last week, we covered NHSE’s most recent board meeting, which saw discussion focus on the need to digitally support the workforce and highlight increased digital maturity as a priority over the next two years. Click here to read more.

In related news around infrastructure, in March we took a look at the estates and infrastructure strategy from South East London ICS, in which digital is noted to play a role in two key estate objectives – working towards net zero estate by 2040, and making smart use of estate through utilisation of technology.