The new director of transformation at NHS England and Improvement has said digital change in healthcare is “really difficult” but is “absolutely essential” when it comes to addressing the challenges the NHS is facing.

Dr Timothy Ferris was revealed as the new transformation director back in March 2021. He will lead the NHS England and Improvement’s Transformation Directorate, a branch of the organisation bringing together NHS England and Improvement’s operational improvement team and NHSX.

Speaking at HETT on September 28, Dr Ferris, said his highest priorities currently are “recovering routine services, tackling the backlog and addressing health inequalities”. To address these, the Transformation Directorate will redesign services, make full use of data and analytics and ensure the NHS is a platform for innovation.

In order to achieve all this, changes to NHS services would be required, Dr Ferris explained.

“Change is really difficult but it is absolutely essential that we are addressing the challenges that the NHS is facing,” he told the audience in a pre-recorded address.

“Change is tough, especially for those on the front line of care because we have to do our jobs at the same time as redesigning services,” he also added.

One of the aims of the Transformation Directorate is to maintain the pace of innovation seen during Covid-19 and Dr Ferris made reference to the work achieved during the pandemic and how it will shape his department.

“In March 2020, NHS England and NHS Improvement and NHSX established the NHS Covid-19 datastore at speed to bring together multiple data sources from across the health and care system in England into a single location,” he said.

“This is the kind of working together we need across the NHS to solve the problems our patients and clinicians are facing,” Dr Ferris added.

During his key address at the event in London, Dr Ferris provided some more information on his new department’s role saying firmly that it will bring together various groups – such as clinicians and experts in digital – “to drive transformation faster”.

He also said the department will “hold itself accountable” and work to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard as “success will depend on broad participation”.

Concluding his address, Dr Ferris said “this is a fantastic time to be part of the NHS” as it is “armed with confidence” following its work during the pandemic and is “well-positioned” to take on the hard work to deliver transformation.