The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has highlighted the lack of national interoperability standards after shadowing front-line staff during an overnight shift.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Matt Hancock said he was “a bit bleary-eyed” following his shift at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and the London Ambulance Service, but added he had been struck by three things.
One of these was technology, “or lack of it”.
Hancock said: “I was already motivated to improve the IT of the NHS – but boy! Chelsea and Westminster Hospital is one of the better trusts for IT, but even there is so far to go.
“And it was through no fault of their own – but rather the lack of national interoperability standards means systems just can’t talk to each other, so people are forced to revert to pen and paper.
“Staff were hindered by IT in a way that we simply wouldn’t accept in any other organisation in the 21st century.”
He added that his stint working at the hospital, which is part of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, had motivated him “more than over” to sort technology out, adding “interoperable data standards are on their way”.
The full Facebook post can be read below.
Dedication and camaraderie within the NHS, and communication between health teams, also struck the health secretary.
In July, Hancock delivered his first speech since being appointed to the post, where he listed technology as one of his top three priorities along with workforce and prevention of illness.
The former secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport also outlined how £412m will be made available to transform technology in hospitals, which Digital Health News recently revealed will be called the Health System Led Investment (HSLI) programme.