In its latest 2024/25 priorities and operational planning guidance, NHS England has asked systems to continue supporting the levelling up of provider digital maturity across all sectors and confirmed that development of the NHS App will continue alongside rollout of the Federated Data Platform (FDP).

The guidance, published on 27 March, includes a section on ‘Planning for the future’ with a subsection titled ‘Harnessing data, digital and technology’, where NHSE “ask systems to continue to support levelling up of provider digital maturity across all sectors”.

NHSE confirm that it will “continue to develop the NHS App as the digital front door to the NHS and is rolling out the FDP”. It added: “We ask systems to keep connecting services to and championing the use of the NHS App, and to engage with the national FDP team to ensure planned investments are aligned with the FDP.”

NHSE plans to roll out the FDP to at least 70 organisations in 2024/25. “Those looking to optimise scheduling processes for theatres, waiting list validation and discharge are invited to come forward. Systems are asked to work with the national FDP team to align their data architecture and consider the potential of the FDP in planning investments,” the guidance reads.

This subsection of the guidance concludes with NHSE committing to “work with systems to develop robust plans for the technology investment announced in the 2024 Spring Budget to support delivery of the NHS productivity plan for the years from 2025/6”.

The £3.4 billion investment in data and technology, NHSE say, “will allow us to roll out technology and digital services to improve access, waiting times and outcomes”, and describes the commitment as “transformational, for both patients and for our staff”.

The guidance includes a detailed focus on mental health, where NHSE say a key action for systems is to “embed digital technology to transform mental health care pathways, provide more personalised and joined-up care, improve clinical productivity, and support improvements in access, waiting times and outcomes”.

Another action within the mental health section of the guidance is to “improve timeliness and quality of mental health activity outcomes and equality data to evidence the expansion and transformation of mental health services, and the impact on population health”.

This includes improving data flows into the Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS) from partner organisations, NHSE say, including primary care and the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector.

In a separate section titled ‘Digital and data’, NHSE state that systems are asked to continue to deliver the commitments set out in the strategic plans for the digitisation of services to support integration and service transformation: A plan for digital health and social care and Data Saves Lives.

Key actions for systems set out in the guidance include using the latest What Good Looks Like digital maturity assessment “to ensure plans are improving adherence to standards for well led digital leadership and will deliver smart foundation for basic digital infrastructure”.

NHSE also say it expects “ICBs to have a system-wide plan for maintaining robust cyber security, including development of centralised capabilities to provide support across all organisations”.

This comes after the latest cyber attack on the NHS, which has led to some patients at NHS Dumfries and Galloway having their personal data released last week by the ransomware group Inc Ransom.