Patients are set to benefit from more streamlined care and be able to make more informed choices about how and where they access treatment after plans to transform NHS data sharing were brought forward.
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the proposed transfer of NHS Digital’s functions into NHS England (NHSE) which were due to happen at the end of March 2023 would now happen in early January 2023.
The move will create a single statutory body responsible for data and digital technology for the NHS – meaning patients will be able to access electronic records more easily, reduced the need to duplicate shared information, and provide greater patient choice through more accessible information.
The move will build on the huge progress seen on digital transformation during the pandemic, driving efficiencies across the NHS as evidence suggests digitally mature providers are 10% more efficient than their less digitally mature peers.
Accelerating the transfer will lead to faster improvements in cooperation between the key digital bodies of the NHS by bringing them under one roof for the first time. This will ensure the health and care sector is fully equipped to face the future and deliver for patients.
In line with commitments made to Parliament, NHS England will provide the same protections for people’s data as NHS Digital, while taking advantage of the merger to improve processes where possible.
DHSC and NHSE’ key priority is to ensure that data is used and shared safely, securely and appropriately to: deliver high-quality care, understand and protect the health of the population, effectively plan and improve services and research and develop innovative treatments, vaccines and diagnostics
Moving NHS Digital to NHS England will make sure that all the expertise and activity in relation to data and digital services are together in a single organisation and meets a key recommendation of Laura Wade-Gery’s review: Putting data, digital and tech at the heart of transforming the NHS.
The changes will better support the recovery of NHS services, address waiting list backlogs, and support hardworking staff, all while driving forwards an ambitious agenda of digital transformation and progress.