The national director of transformation at NHS England and Improvement has claimed that the NHS as an organisation is too static and must learn from itself and from others internationally.

Dr Tim Ferris was giving a keynote speech and answering questions as part of a panel at The King’s Fund’s Digital Health and Care Congress. The session was broadly based on ‘looking ahead’, with Dr Ferris’ keynote focused on ‘realising transformation through the power of digital’. He began his speech by talking about a recent trip to Saudi Arabia in which he met with the country’s minister for health.

Dr Ferris emphasised that Saudi Arabia are doing some impressive things in healthcare and the NHS need to learn from other countries and from itself.

He said: “The NHS does not learn enough from the NHS. The organisation is too static and we need to learn from each other and from international examples.”

He also expressed that “England’s health outcome ranking has been falling a lot in the last year, that’s not OK” and condensed his targets moving forward into three words: digitise, connect and transform.

In terms of connections, Dr Ferris said: “The single most important connection that needs to be made is the connection between primary and secondary care.”

The national director of transformation, who was appointed back in March 2021, also stated that he wants to reach a point where every person in the country can view 100% of their healthcare record but currently, “we are falling short in delivery because of capacity in the system”.

Dr Ferris stated that money is not the challenge, but change is, revealing his change philosophy as: ‘jointly decided, centrally supported, locally lead’.

Simon Bolton opens the show

The Digital Health and Care Congress 2022 kicked off with a keynote speech by NHS Digital’s interim CEO, Simon Bolton.

Bolton’s speech was based around four key words: commoditisation, consumerisation, data, and culture. He said we “need to be able to use data in health and care environments to shine a light on our performance” and as well as for performance, data must be used for the individual and for research.

In terms of culture, Bolton said he was “really surprised” to discover, since joining a healthcare organisation, that “the culture is very competitive”.