The Department of Health has said that it doesn’t expect to mandate information standards in any more than a ‘handful of cases’.

Instead, the DH says it expects to work with partners in a consensual fashion, says Giles Wilmore, the author of the new NHS information strategy who spoke at a joint Intellect/DH event last week.

Asked about standards and whether they would be mandated, Wilmore said that mandation didn’t fit with the consensual, collaborative ethos of the strategy.

“We are serious about co-production of standards. We can mandate them nationally through the NHS Commissioning Board but we don’t expect to have to as we expect to co-produce them.

“So in terms of whether we will mandate things, should we need to, yes; but I wouldn’t expect to do beyond the number of fingers on one hand as they will be built on consensus.”

Wilmore said a “standards roadmap would be developed”, covering interoperability and clinical coding.

He said that the strategy was deliberately light on specific targets, pitching instead at vision.

“We’ve tried the top down approach,” said Wilmore. “We’re showing people what’s possible and providing examples and links to supporting information.”

However, he did let slip the DH is also examining the creation of mechanisms "to incentivise the delivery" of the NHS information strategy. The unspecified ‘delivery incentives’ featured in Wilmore’s PowerPoint presentation, but were not spelled out.

Wilmore did say the responsibility for over-seeing and leading on the delivery of the strategy will be overseen by the troika of the Care Quality Commission, Monitor and the NHS Commissioning Board Authority.

Kathy Mason, until recently DHID strategy lead and since May NHS Commissioning Board Authority strategy lead, said: “We expect to deliver the strategy through partnerships and will work together organisations like Intellect and the NHS Confederation.”

Mason stressed the DH had done the utmost to ensure the strategy was “evidence based” and promised it would measure progress. “In implementing the strategy we will make sure we evidence what we set out to achieve and measure as we go.”