12 NHS Hospital trusts to trail blaze NHS’s Digital Revolution

NHS England responds to Independent Review

Twelve NHS hospital trusts have been selected to trail blaze new ways of using digital technology to drive radical improvements in the care of patients.

Known as “digital exemplars”, they will each receive up to £10 million from NHS England in a bid to inspire a digital revolution across the health service.

This phased approach to digital implementation follows the recommendations of an independent review, published today, by health IT expert Professor Bob Wachter on how the NHS can use technology to improve services.

In line with Professor Wachter’s other recommendations, NHS England has previously announced the appointment of a national chief clinical information officer.  Professor Keith McNeil, a senior medical leader and former transplant specialist, will ensure that use of technology across the NHS is focused on direct clinical benefit.

Professor McNeil will play a crucial role in coordinating both clinical and technical work efforts as the NHS pushes forward in implementing its technology strategy.

The 12 exemplars, the most digital advanced hospitals in the NHS, will deliver a range of initiatives including:

  • Real time video links between ambulances and emergency departments to support better care during journeys to hospital
  • Electronic detection and alerting of patient deteriorations such as sepsis reducing the number of patients in whom this is missed leading to improved outcomes, reduced mortality and shorter lengths of stay
  • Online systems which reduce medication errors by up to half by managing monitoring patients more effectively and alerting clinicians

The digital exemplars will get funding to invest in digital infrastructure such as Wi-Fi to deliver benefits for patients and doctors, nurses and other NHS staff.  They will share learning and resources with other NHS organisations through networks.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt today named the hospital trusts selected by NHS England at the NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo conference in Manchester.

They are:

  • City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust
  • Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Salford Royal Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • Luton & Dunstable University Hospital NHS Trust
  • West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
  • Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
  • Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

Matthew Swindells, National Director for Operations and Information at NHS England, said: “The challenge of digitising is not at its heart technological – it starts with a clear local vision and strategy for the health system and organisation.  Digital technology has a key role to play in enabling the NHS to deliver better care, improve health outcomes and increase efficiency and now is absolutely the time for the entire health and care system to grasp it with both hands.”

Professor Keith McNeil, Chief Clinical Information Officer at NHS England, said: “The digital programme is a key pillar of the entire system transformation journey that is underway, guided by the Five Year Forward View.  Technology is crucial to providing the information necessary to improve patient outcomes and enhanced system sustainability and we need to move faster in realising its benefits to improve efficiency and enhance care. Our aim here is to create a national movement, of which the global digital exemplars are one important piece of the jigsaw.”

There will also be an NHS Digital Academy to train budding digital leaders in the key skills they need to become the next generation of chief information officers and chief clinical information officers.  The Digital Academy will run tailored training programmes in informatics and executive/change management with both national and international partners to nurture ‘up and coming’ informaticians, ensuring that clinical need is at the heart of every digital NHS project.