The secretary of state for health and social care is expected to today announce £200 million of funding to create additional global digital exemplars, including the first community trust GDEs.

Speaking later today at NHS Expo in Manchester, Matt Hancock will set out his plans to make the NHS an ecosystem for the best technology available.

He is expected to say: “Now is the moment to put the failures of the past behind us, and set our sights on the NHS being the most cutting-edge system in the world for the use of technology to improve our health, make our lives easier, and make money go further, harnessing the amazing explosion of innovation that the connection of billions of minds through digital technology has brought to this world.”

Digital Health News revealed last month that further GDE waves were being actively planned. Hancock will say that the £200m will be used to create new acute, mental health and ambulance trusts GDEs as well as the first community GDEs.

There are currently 16 acute global digital exemplars, which have 17 fast followers; seven mental health GDEs, and three ambulance GDEs.

NHS App to be piloted

Ahead of its national rollout in December, Hancock is also expected to announce that the NHS App will be piloted in five areas across England.

From October, patients in Liverpool, Hastings, Bristol, Staffordshire and South Worcestershire will be able to download a beta version of the app.

They will be sent a text message from their GP practice inviting them to download the app, which allows access to a range of services.

This includes:

  • Booking GP appointments
  • Ordering repeat prescriptions
  • Viewing medical record
  • Accessing 111 online for urgent medical queries
  • Setting data sharing preferences
  • Recording organ donation preferences
  • Setting end of life care preferences

Goldacre to chair new advisory board

Hancock is also expected to use his speech to announce the creation of a HealthTech Advisory Board chaired by Ben Goldacre.

The board, which will report directly to Hancock, is intended to highlight where change needs to happen, where best practice isn’t being followed, and be an ideas hub for how to transform the NHS to improve patient outcomes, patient experience, and to make the lives of NHS staff easier.

Goldacre – a doctor, academic and writer – has become famous for exposing misuse of science and statistics by journalists, politicians and drug companies. He is also director of the Evidence-Based Medicine DataLab at the University of Oxford.

“Grapple with this agenda”

It is anticipated the secretary of state will use his speech to urge local healthcare leaders to fully embrace digital transformation. “I know there are many brilliant people trying to do the right thing and I will back you,” he is expected to say. “And I say to NHS leaders: I expect every board, be they provider, CCG or STP, to grapple with this agenda and back the people doing the transformation.

“I am determined to make this happen – for the sake of the millions of you who work in health and social care. For the 50 million people in this country who rely on you in their hour of need.

“To help in our mission to guarantee the NHS for the long term, to make the NHS the best it can be.

“So let us work together to put the best technology on the planet to work.”