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Government’s NHS digitisation progress rated ‘inadequate’

by Eliza Parr
20 February 2023

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The Government’s efforts to advance NHS digitisation – including the programme to extract data from GP records – have been rated inadequate by a group of MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee.

The committee published a report on Friday (17 February) which found the Government’s progress on nine commitments across four policy areas, many of which involve GP practices, were too slow and often lacked the support and funding necessary. 

For example, the report assessed there has been ‘no meaningful progress in 10 years’ on the Government’s commitment to implement a mechanism to de-identify data on collection from GP practices for research and planning use. 

It cited the pause of General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) in 2021 as a cause of ‘significant damage to public confidence and an increase in the number of patients opting out of the programme’. 

On the roll-out of the NHS App, the report found there is no clear policy nor specific funding, and it ‘is expected to be driven primarily by GP practices without a commitment of providing them with extra financial resource to enable them to do so’. 

The overall inadequate rating ‘casts severe doubts on the Government’s ability to ensure that health and social care systems have the digital foundations they need to meet the challenges they face’, according to the report. 

The expert panel’s report, titled ‘Evaluation of Government commitments made on the digitisation of the NHS’, will help shape the work of the Health and Social Care Committee, according to its chair Steve Brine MP. 

Professor Dame Jane Dacre, chair of the expert panel, said ‘time and time again, promises have been made but not delivered, hampering wider progress’.

She added: ‘The aspirations to transform the NHS, supported by the right digital foundations, are to be applauded, however, our report finds evidence mainly of opportunities missed.’

It follows a recent BMA survey which found that doctors believe funding, current software and hardware pose significant challenges to digital transformation.

A version of this story was first published on our sister title Pulse.