The new health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, has outlined his plans for the future of the NHS, pledging almost half a billion pounds to “transform” the health service, with focus on three early priorities: technology, the health and care work force, and prevention.
Around £487m of funding will be dedicated to technology as part of the NHS’s long-term plan to reduce patient waiting times and lessen the burden on frontline workforces. As part of the plan, the government will invest £412m into new technology at hospitals, which is expected to improve efficiency, enhance patient safety and help more patients access health services at home. Outdated technology is a target for the funding, including replacing pagers with smartphone apps, the phasing out of fax machines, and the continued roll-out of the Scan4Safety barcode tracking programme in hospitals to track all patients and their treatments.
A further £75m is available to help trusts put in place electronic prescribing systems, which save money and reduce potentially deadly medication errors by up to 50% compared to paper systems. Bids have been processed for this funding and money will now be allocated to trusts to start putting systems in place. The secretary of state’s promises come after a series of digital initiatives kick-started by his predecessor, Jeremy Hunt, who recently announced a new app aimed at improving access to GP records, appointments and prescriptions.