The new NHS mandate prioritises electronic health record (EHR) targets, development and delivery of the federated data platform (FDP) and transformation of the NHS app in an effort to help recovery and improve the working of the NHS.

The mandate, published on Thursday, is meant to apply from 14 June 2023 until a new mandate is published, the document said.

In a foreward to the document, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Steve Barclay said: “We know, for example, that digitally mature trusts operate with approximately 10% improved efficiency compared with their less digitally mature peers.

“A key priority is supporting health and care systems to ‘level-up’ their digital maturity and ensure they have a core level of infrastructure, digitisation and skills by March 2023.”

The mandate called progress in digital transformation “crucial” to the long-term sustainability of the NHS, and said “technology and the skills, leadership and culture that underpins it” must drive a new era of benefits for patients, including the use of AI to give better treatment, new screening techniques to detect illness sooner and equipment allowing patents to be treated at home.

“NHS should continue to prioritise tackling variation, supporting digital transformation in areas where there is the greatest challenge,” the document said. It said the NHS should prioitise the development and delivery of the FDP and enhance trust and ICB adoption of the platforms.

It said this will allow the health service to optimise the use of health and social care data to deliver better services and outcomes for patients, “maintaining the highest standards of data protection and ensuring cyber resilience to maintain and build public trust in our protection of people’s data”.

Meanwhile, “the NHS App should be transformed so that it can be increasingly used for booking and managing appointments, ordering repeat prescriptions, accessing patient records and access digital health therapeutics”.

Confirmation of EHR target

The mandate also reiterated that:

Barclay also said that he has “seen and been inspired by” new uses of artificial intelligence (AI) tech to help clinicians diagnose skin cancer, lung cancer and strokes, “in some instances almost halving the time it takes for patients to leave hospital following a stroke and tripling their chances of being able to live independently”.

The health secretary also extended a challenge to the the NHS to “go even even further to adopt safe, ethical and effective AI tools to improve outcomes for patients in other clinical areas, making the most of the opportunities that this revolutionary new technology creates for improving public service”.

The leadership of the transformation agenda at NHS England (NHSE) has been uncertain since the functions of NHS improvement, Health Education England and NHS Digital moved to NHSE.