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Digital experts to join mental health and cancer teams

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Digital and data experts are to join national cancer and mental health policy teams at NHS England to help them make the best use of technology.

The specialists from NHSX – health and social care secretary Matt Hancock’s new tech hub – will work with health professionals and policymakers, with the aim of improving the experiences of patients and staff in these fields.

“This is just the beginning of the tech revolution”

Matt Hancock 

They want to ensure patients can access services through smartphones; clinicians can access diagnostic information about patients; and health data is collected and used in the best way.

If the initiative is successful, it could be rolled out more widely across the NHS.

NHSX was announced in February and it will come into operation this summer.

The joint unit involves leaders from government, the NHS and industry with a stated mission of making sure patients and staff have the digital technology they need.

From July, NHSX will mandate the use of internationally recognised technology and data standards across the NHS to ensure all systems can talk to each other.

Matthew Gould, currently the director general for digital and media at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has been named its new chief executive.

Mr Gould will have strategic responsibility for setting the national direction on technology across health and social care organisations.

He will be accountable to Mr Hancock and Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England.

“Our single goal will be to improve the care that everyone in the country gets”

Matthew Gould 

On his appointment, Mr Gould said: “Our single goal will be to improve the care that everyone in the country gets by making sure that both staff and patients have the technology they need.

“I will know I have succeeded if in two years we have reduced the crazy amount of time that clinicians spend inputting and accessing patient information, if we have given patients the tools so they can access information and services directly from their phones,” he said.

“And if we have started to build a system in which patient information can be securely accessed from wherever it is needed, ensuring safer and better care as patients move around the system, and saving patients from having to tell every doctor and nurse their story over and over again,” he added. 

NHSX is also planning to recruit a chief technology officer.

In addition, Mr Hancock has vowed to “look at” adding a chief nursing officer role to NHSX after the absence of one was flagged by a nurse at the chief nursing officer for England’s summit in March, as reported by Nursing Times. 

Mr Hancock described NHSX as “one of the most exciting things happening in the UK”.

“It’s cutting edge, it’s mission driven and it’s about harnessing the best,” he added. 

“This is just the beginning of the tech revolution, building on our NHS Long Term Plan to create leading health and care service – for us all,” he said.

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