The NHS IT strategy is likely to have a greater effect on the service over the next five years than foundation status or payment by results, according to a MORI poll of 102 trust chief executives in England.

The poll, published at the start of the NHS Confederation conference in Glasgow this week, reveals that 84% of chief executives think the new IT strategy would make a great deal of impact or a fair amount.

Comparative figures for other policy changes impacting on the service were:
Patient Choice 92%
New staff roles 80%
Payment by results 70%
Foundation status 59%

Commenting on the results, NHS Confederation chief executive, Dr Gill Morgan, said: “Foundations are important but they are not the sole answer to the challenges facing the NHS. The biggest improvements will not be delivered by new organisational structures, but by new ways of working which reorganise services around the needs of patients.”

In an interview with E-Health Insider last week, Dr Morgan said: “I think the NHS has not even yet dreamed if the things that IT can do. We’re still looking at information systems supporting the current ways we do things and the big challenge is how on earth we use IT to leapfrog from the past into a brave new world.”

The poll suggests that chief executives share that view, rejecting more structural change in their organisations in favour of new ways of working.

Reflecting the new enthusiasm for IT, the conference programme includes a session with NHS director-general of IT, Richard Granger, along with the first major speech from the new health secretary, Dr John Reid.