back to article NHS needs to pull its finger out and prep staff for future robotics, genomics, data-led healthcare

The UK's National Health Service has been warned to plan tech investments carefully, address data governance and quality concerns, and boost staff training to ensure IT benefits rather than harms patients. According to an in-depth review led by digital medicine researcher Eric Topol and commissioned by the UK health secretary …

  1. macjules Silver badge

    Has to be said

    Any "NHS Long-Term Plan" is just simply fiddling on the roof.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Has to be said

      Particularly in NHSEngland as it's a political football which is kicked around near election time and post election time every few years. NHS Wales and NHSScotland are less punted but still take a kicking now and then with constant suggestions of restructuring always looming which irrespective of claims do impact local decisions on services.

      I'm actually shocked that Information Governance even got a mention, it's general forgotten about or actively sidelined by people who think information security means governance which isn't true. You also typically have academics and private companies wanting to keep IG quiet as it means easier access to them - to hell with patient data concerns which IG consistently pushes for.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Has to be said

      <sigh>Topol .. Fiddler on the Roof .. </sigh>

  2. Alister Silver badge

    There will also be a workforce implementation plan, led by Dido Harding, which will aim to put the recommendations in the Topol review into practice.

    We're all doomed!

    What she knows about data governance and privacy could be written on the head of a pin, and still leave room for the manufacturers name...

    1. Korev Silver badge

      I'm expecting a lot of Talktalk and no action

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re. a workforce implementation plan

      plain English: you lot - OUT! And you, YES, YOU, if you REALLY want this cushy digital assistant job, you'd better learn it pronto, while I go back to my extremely demanding management duties!

  3. NE-bot

    We're all dead

    Did anyone spot that at the end of the article, it's DIDO HARDING in charge. Dido Harding is the Chair of NHS Improvement.

    We're all dead. This person, whom even non-techies describe as 'naive' in her response to TalkTalk's breaches.

    This is why our system is fucked up. Some people fail upwards when they should be banned from keeping pets, let alone businesses. We'll see no improvements from this, just a further waste of money.

    1. Alister Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: We're all dead


      Ha, beat you to it... :)

      It's obvious, if a person is in charge of a company at the time of one of the largest data breaches in the UK, then promote them to look after the NHS digital transformation, let the data flow freely!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Entitled ?

    Her correct title is the Honorary Dido (Diana) Harding, Baroness Harding of Winscombe ( a Tory life peer) and she is married to a Tory MP.

    No doubt they both have private medical insurance too.

    Marketing ran a headline, "TalkTalk boss Dido Harding's utter ignorance is a lesson to us all".

    I have no more to add.

    With thanks to Wikipedia for the data.

    1. deive

      Re: Entitled ?

      So Hancock who has already shown how much he wants to dismantle the NHS (Babylon, etc) pays an American doctor (nothing against American docs in general - but the Tories want to sell the NHS to their USAsian friends) to then give the go ahead for another Tory (Harding) who we already know knows nothing about data security.

      Is there any member of the Tory party who could even arrange for a piss up in a brewery without getting one of their friends in on the money? Is it just me or is this now obvious corruption?

      Also, how are the NHS going to pay for this when the Tories have already stripped it down to the bone?


      and breathe... sorry about that!

  5. HmmmYes Silver badge

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "investment in IT systems [..] as well as the training [..] will have to be planned carefully"

    Is that a public recognition of the fact that that has most certainly not been the case up to now ?

    The implicit implication that that is utterly unacceptable will be discussed at a later panel.

    1. EnviableOne Bronze badge

      Re: "investment in IT systems [..] as well as the training [..] will have to be planned carefully"

      Means wont happen this decade

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    why am I being suspicious?

    that this report has been "commissioned" by some people with fingers in a big, juicy, digital pie? Ah, right, it's because I wear this tinfoil hat even in my mum's basement. Good news though, sooner rather than later, instead of trying to phone in furiously, first thing in the morning, to get a GP appointment (and then listen to the GP who's to listen to yoiur problem), you'll be able to chat, in the comfort of the same airmchair, with a LIVE (-like) "Digi-Doc", and order this calpol bottle from the button conveniently available at the bottom of the screen, courtesy of Tesco: THE proud partner for NHS!

    btw, a digital virtual ferry service, anyone? We could then, like, virtually, ship them sickies to France or something...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Early in 2018 I had a problem that was investigated on the fast track system and judged not to be malignant. As my wife did have a far more serious issue I dropped any follow up until this year. Though I have continued to have increasing problems, my 'perfect' NHS records clearly showed NO reference to the earlier investigations when I had a recent appointment to follow up the issue.

    I have a couple of relations who work in support roles to whom such missing information came as no surprise. My wife's treatment goes in fits and starts as information is found and perhaps hidden or just not actioned in time.

    Do we feel that change, improvement and progress is over due? Too right we do, my wife's file is currently over 25cm thick and not all the information is in that compendium.

    Anon due to the personal nature of the data.

  9. saif

    Duty to be exploited by the greedy and liars

    Health is precious. Paying taxes for the NHS gives us a right to demand healthcare, turning it into a state-funded cash-cow. This means that we are expected by vendors to pay huge amounts of money for anything. They charge 12 billion for NPfIT and deliver nothing. e-Noting procurement will cost our trust several hundred thousand pounds a year to rent, whereas systems exist that deliver greater functionality for little or no cost. The trouble is that IT systems are procured based on marketing hype and projected functionality, with progressively escalating costs once the foot is in the door. Too late, we find they deliver much less but handcuff the NHS to a system which it continues to bleed money into. Decisions are usually made by self-promoting quangos and fools with a track record of making bad decisions, the normal selection criteria for such posts.

    1. Tim Almond

      Re: Duty to be exploited by the greedy and liars

      "This means that we are expected by vendors to pay huge amounts of money for anything. They charge 12 billion for NPfIT and deliver nothing."

      And who signed the contracts for that? Who monitored what was being delivered for the money? It's not like they walked into the vaults of the NHS with sawnoffs and left with bags of gold.

      I really wish I could blame the large consultancies. I've worked with some of them and they're about as honest as a timeshare salesman but in the end, someone in government failed to manage the overall project. No-one in the private sector writes off 12 billion on an IT system or even close to it. You might get a small number of millions before someone realises the guy in charge is incompetent and fires him and replaces him with someone else.

  10. phuzz Silver badge

    "A world in which a hospital can’t pull up a patient’s GP record to see the reason for stopping and starting medications is downright dangerous," he said.

    Fortunately due to years of cuts, the GP waiting list is so long that the patient probably had to go straight to A&E without ever seeing their GP, so there's no records to pull up.

    Lets face it, harping on about a "digital NHS" is a waste of fscking time when we can't even afford to hire enough staff...

  11. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Is it just me?

    For instance, it said that "digital medicine" – such as appointments by app or video

    I keep reading this with reference to "digital" medicine and remain enormously underwhelmed. How do video appointments improve yield? What do they bring that can't be done over the phone?

    I do think there is huge scope for improving service, and telemedicine has its place, but an awful lot of medicine needs to be done on the spot. Telepresence perhaps for specialists in areas but otherwise IT should be providing support services in things like triaging and diagnosis.

  12. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Don't worry about the IT, what about the staff

    Getting any kind of trained healthcare staff is already a problem and about to get a whole lot worse. Not much point in kitting out those not existent GPs with machines that go ping. Well, unless you've got shares in one of the companies with the contracts…

    1. ItWasn'tMe

      Re: Don't worry about the IT, what about the staff

      Talking of which...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anything is possible...

    ... with £350-Million-a-week extra in the NHS budget.

    The country, nay the world is watching with anticipation!

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Anticipation

      Especially Dr. Frank N. Furter.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They need to be planning for...

    A workforce mostly made up of Robots and very few humans

    Just like pretty well every other industry.

    Welcome to our new Robot overlords and a life for most of us on the Dole (if it still exists that is).

    Not a nice future to look forward to is it?

  15. JohnMurray

    It's not that long ago that £10 billion+ was spaffed on an NHS IT system that was lacking the "I" and the "T" part...

  16. Dante Alighieri

    20 years?

    that would be centralise -> distribute ->centralise -> rinse -> repeat

    DoI I work in the NHS

  17. Just Enough

    Every time...

    "The UK's National Health Service has been warned.."

    England's National Health Service. I mean, the title of the report is pretty clear; "Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future – a draft health and care Workforce Strategy for England to 2027."

  18. Tim Almond

    Hell No

    "NHS needs to pull its finger out and prep staff for future robotics, genomics, data-led healthcare"

    The NHS can barely manage IT at a level that your average private dental practice can. They've recently got SMS reminders at my GP surgery, something my dentist had a decade ago. They're just rolling out e-referrals instead of sending paper letters in the post. Something my dentist did years ago for specialists. My dentist also has everything digitised. There's a PC in every surgery and a PC at the front desk. You want to check what was done on your last but one visit, they can pull it up in seconds. Can my GP do that? No, he can't.

    Go to a hospital and you see people wheeling trolleys of paper around. It's like something out of the 70s.

  19. tinman

    has anyone looked at the pdf of the report?

    Maybe I'm missing something but is there a reason that the pdf is formatted with a permanent two page layout making it really awkward to read, instead of a single page layout? Is this indicative of how we can expect any digital innovation to proceed, with poor consideration of the end user?

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