The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will announce plans tomorrow for a £4.2bn investment to create a ‘paperless NHS’.
With government departments generally embracing the digital revolution, it is hoped that the NHS can set high standards in this area.
Hunt will make a statement indicating that the investment in this department will enable the NHS to deliver superior and more convenient services.
It is also hoped that clinicians will be able to provide faster diagnoses, which will free them to spend more time caring for patients.
Full details of the funding are still being agreed between the Department of Health and NHS England.
But early indications are that £1.8 billion will be set aside in order to create a paper-free NHS, removing outdated technology such as fax machines from the health service loop.
In addition to this £1.8 billion investment, it is also anticipated that £1 billion will be set aside for cyber security and data consent.
This must be considered particularly important, as it has been made clear recently that IT vulnerability in the NHS is a concern.
£750 million will be invested in order to transform out-of-hospital care, medicines, and digitalise social, urgent and emergency care.
Finally, around £400 million will enable the NHS to construct a new website, develop apps and provide free Wi-Fi in all NHS buildings.
It has been confirmed that NHS.uk will be the domain name for the new website of the health service.
The government is also developing a new click and collect service for prescriptions.
Hunt offered the following comment on the multi-billion pound plan.
“The NHS has the opportunity to become a world leader in introducing new technology – which means better patient outcomes and a revolution in healthcare at home.
On the back of a strong economy, and because of our belief in the NHS and its values, we are investing more than £4 billion across the health system to ease pressure on the frontline and create stronger partnerships between doctor and patient.
Under the plans everyone will have access to their own electronic health record, which will be shared between professionals to prevent patients from having to repeat their medical history.
Patients will also be given the opportunity to upload and send real-time data to medical professionals on long-term conditions such as blood pressure.
By 2020, it is hoped that 25% of all patients with long term conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer will be able to monitor their health remotely.”
However, despite the apparent advantages proclaimed by the government, Shadow health minister Justin Madders was sceptical of the value of this new scheme.
“Any investment in technology is welcome but it’s unclear how much, if any, of this money is actually new. Rather than re-hashing old announcements, Jeremy Hunt needs to be telling the public how he intends to sort out the crisis facing our NHS.”
Madders also delivered a damning verdict on the management of the NHS by the Conservative party.
“The Tories cannot hide from the fact that the NHS is going backwards on their watch. Hospital departments have become dangerously full, patients are waiting hours in A&E, and the health service is facing the worst financial crisis in a generation.”
Despite the political wranglings, it does seem that a digitalisation of NHS services is overdue.