Innovation within the health service is not just about “chucking an iPad” at it, the programme director of innovations, digital futures and digital collaboration service at NHS Digital has stressed.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation 2018 Conference in Manchester on 13 June, Cleveland Henry talked about the digital successes and challenges that NHS Digital has encountered.

The session, which was held on the conference’s “Focus on digital and technology” stage, looked into how the advancement of technology in the health and care system has helped transform patient care.

While successes were listed as e-referrals, NHSmail and the Spine, and Henry said technology is being introduced to patients and clinicians across the NHS, he admitted more work was needed to actually get people to use it.

He said: “We have 95% of GPs offering online services but only 20% [of people] are using it.

“Yes we are doing innovation but there’s work we need to do. We can’t just chuck an iPad at it.”

Henry added that it is important to deliver solutions “that are easier to use than not to”, adding clinicians must be “comfortable” employing the technology on a daily basis.

He said: “We need to make sure that we do our job so that front-line staff can do theirs.

“The more digital we make services, the easier it becomes for the staff to treat patients.”

Overall Henry said the aim of was to make the NHS “future fit” and said innovation should not be stifled by previous IT projects.

He said: “Let’s not be held back by the mistakes made in the past.”

Henry was joined on stage by Shona McMahon, CIO at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, who said the conversation around technology needed to be changed.

Also speaking as part of the session was Stephen Docherty, CIO at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

Docherty told the audience how the trust had developed a messaging service which allowed staff to communicate effectively away from “email culture”.