Patients will 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) says.
The DHSC explains that the proposed transfer of NHS Digital’s functions into NHS England (NHSE), due to happen at the end of March 2023, will now take place in early January next year. The move will create a single statutory body responsible for data and digital technology for the NHS. THE DHSC says patients will benefit from:
- a streamlined experience due to a reduced need to repeatedly share information across the health system;
- the ability to make more informed choices about care by providing information about length of wait for treatment, making waiting lists by speciality and by provider more accessible;
- easier access to electronic patient records through ‘accelerated digital transformation services’ for patients.
The DHSC said: “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 that the health and care sector is fully equipped to face the future and deliver for patients.”
Working closely with partners including the Information Commissioner and the National Data Guardian, DHSC and NHSE say they will ensure that there continue to be rigorous internal controls to ensure that data is ‘used and shared safely’.
The transfer – subject to parliamentary approval and agreement with the devolved administration – will see the statutory role of NHS Digital move to NHS England. Following the merger, NHS Digital as a separate arms-length body of the Department for Health and Social Care will cease to exist. NHS Digital staff and assets will all transfer to NHS England before going through the wider ‘Creating a New NHS England’ change programme .