Four significant new areas for NHS information and IT policy are identified in the Department of Health’s new plans for commissioning services in England.

The newly-published plan for the NHS commissioning framework says consultations with 150 stakeholders indicate that the patient-centred approach of the current information strategy is right – but four new areas for attention are identified.

The four new areas are:

  • Choice – better information to support patients to make meaningful choices;
  • Commissioning – better information and systems to strengthen commissioning and enable closer integration of health and social care;
  • Providers – improved finance and business information systems to support fit-for-purpose providers; and
  • Stronger data standards and data quality.

The plan says that its consultation confirmed wide support for the key aims of both the current information strategy and the National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

“In particular, an integrated health record that spans care environments and follows the patient pathway, rather than organisational boundaries, is central to patient care in the reformed NHS,” it says.

The plan makes clear that the NPfIT will continue to drive sustained investment in IT and the adoption of technical and data standards “by all who form part of the reformed NHS.”

It says the next steps in developing the IT and information in the four new areas will be to: elaborate on what is needed; integrate those needs into current policy; agree priorities and identify the best mix of local and national action to deliver. It poses two questions for consultation: are these the right areas for further work and in which ways should the work be developed?


Health reform in England: update and commissioning framework