The interim CEO of NHS Digital has stressed that organisations in the centre of the NHS must demonstrate leadership following a “gradual decline into chaos” over the last couple of years.

Speaking on day one of Digital Health Rewired 2022, Simon Bolton opened proceedings on the National Policy and Keynote Stage at the event at the Business Design Centre in London on March 15. The speech focused on the role at the centre of the NHS and what things need to be done as we move into the post-pandemic era.

He said: “The main word for me is focus. If we’re not careful, all the stuff that collectively we have to address, we will end up with the challenge of how we keep control of this and keep it together so it’s coherent and we can be really successful.”

Bolton described to the Rewired audience what he thought the role of the centre was to support the healthcare system, emphasising three main points:

  • Focusing on the workforce – considering and boosting digital skills
  • Encouraging people from all kinds of communities to have a career in digital healthcare
  • Providing support for shorter term skills problems – there are areas with difficulties such as in cyber and analytics – more needs to be done to provide greater skills in that space

Another area where Bolton believes the centre must play a role in is around standards and policy.

“We need to be much clearer about the policies and standards that we need everybody to adhere to because ultimately, we are all a single team. Somehow, we need to find a way to join up our data so we can do smart stuff over time to improve population health,” he added,

“We need to be providing some leadership in that space and allowing people to know what the standards are that they’re building or innovating to on a local level.”

Bolton also told the audience that he was delighted to see the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, set ambitious digital targets for the NHS in the coming years.

As Bolton’s speech came towards its conclusion, he highlighted the huge journey in front of NHS Digital and the entirety of the healthcare system in switching to digital and the significant impact those in the industry can make on the rest of the country.

He said: “We’ve got a massive journey in front of us with the digitally enabled transformation of the NHS. We are going to make mistakes, but we must empower people to do amazing things.

“We need to be ambitious and goal-orientated and really reach for the sky. Together we can all make a massive difference to citizens in this country and that for me is a hugely exciting place to be.”

Taking place on March 15-16 at the Business Design Centre in London, Digital Health Rewired 2022 is a conference and exhibition which brings together all parts of the digital health community to celebrate the best of digital, data and innovation in health and care.

Health and care professionals will be able to network, collaborate and learn in person during two days of educational conference sessions, exhibitions and meetings, all focused on sharing best practice and innovation.

All the conference sessions will be CPD accredited.

While online registrations are now closed, you can still register at the door.