Dr Simon Eccles has used his first NHS Digital board meeting as national CCIO to urge the organisation to focus on the delivery of its current agenda and to not get distracted by “new and shiny things”.
Speaking at an NHS Digital board meeting in London on 21 May, Dr Eccles – who officially took up the post as the NHS’s chief clinical information officer on 13 February – said it was important NHS Digital sees through the programmes it has set out to deliver and doesn’t get sidelined by new fads.
He added that the lure of new innovations threatened to divert resources away from more critical projects. “NHS Digital is continuously asked to do a lot more for slightly less, cutting the benefits of existing programmes in a way that may be unhelpful,” Dr Eccles said.
“It is our collective challenge to make sure that doesn’t happen to things that are valued by the NHS – to do what we said we’d do and not be too distracted by new and shiny things.
“There are many things that people are tapping me on the shoulder and saying: ‘You really should be paying attention to this.’ Until we have done what we have said we will do, we should not be too distracted.”
Non-executive director Daniel Benton suggested that NHS Digital needed to become more flexible as an organisation so that it was in a better position to roll with the punches in future.
“We need to be in a place where we have the flexibility to deal with things, and need to get into a position where we don’t need to keep reprioritising whenever something changes,” Benton said.
The issue of speed of technology adoption was also raised. Sarah Wilkinson, NHS Digital CEO, said that uptake was the organisation’s biggest challenge. “We have delivered some great tech that just isn’t getting the uptake… It’s absolutely critical in terms of good use of public money.”
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