A House of Lords select committee has published a highly critical report on the state of NHS health IT, saying there is a “worrying absence of credible strategy to encourage uptake”.
The document, released on 5 April and produced by the select committee on the long-term sustainability of the NHS, expressed concerns about the lack of unity and direction for NHS health technology.
“There is a worrying absence of a credible strategy to encourage the uptake of innovation and technology at scale across the NHS”, members of the committee said. “It is not clear who is ultimately responsible for driving innovation and ensuring consistency in the assessment and the adoption of new technological approaches.”
The report argued organisations which fail to adapt to technology should be punished financially. “Make it clear that there will be funding and service delivery consequences for those who repeatedly fail to engage.”
It suggested this could involve relocating services to places that prove to be more technologically innovative.
The select committee also said the “testing and adoption of new health technologies should be formally integrated into medical and non-medical NHS leadership, education and training at all levels”.
In so doing, members seemed to favour recommendations that Robert Wachter made in his study of NHS IT, published last September.
In the Wachter Review, he said there was a deficit of trained leaders in clinical care and informatics, and recommended workforce development. Last month NHS England announced it was setting up an NHS Digital Academy to train 300 NHS staff to become “digital leaders” by 2021.
The select committee’s report also touches on the failure of the £7.5 million care.data project that intended to create a giant database of patient records.
Andy Williams, then chief executive of NHS Digital, told the committee that “care.data, in part, failed through a lack of public trust in the use of the data that was going to be generated”.
“We have to convince the public that we are doing the right thing and involving them and asking them.”
The report said the failure of care.data “illustrates the inevitable consequences of failing to grapple with important issues relating to personal privacy”, and argued NHS Digital and those involved in data sharing within the NHS should engage the public in any future endeavours in this area.