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The report, authored by a panel of independent experts, gave the government's progress an "inadequate" rating, raising questions about the Government's capacity to guarantee that the health and social care systems have the digital underpinnings they require to meet the challenges they face.

The report extensively cited evidence provided by Nuffield Department of Primary Care members Professor John Powell, Associate Professor Chrysanthi Papoutsi and Dr Claire Reidy, and colleagues at Imperial College London (led by Dr Felix Greaves), from work supported by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Oxford and Thames Valley (ARC OxTV), hosted within the department. 

You can find out more about their work by clicking here.

The work of this team, funded by the NIHR Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR) Programme, was important in helping the new report’s authors evaluate commitments to digitisation in the care of patients and people in receipt of care, especially around government commitments to the access to and development of the NHS app, which the team has been evaluating.

Recently, a new project to be led by Dr Claire Reidy, Health Services Researcher, looking at health inequalities in NHS app has also been funded by the NIHR ARC OxTV. This is especially timely as the report itself notes that there is ‘an overall lack of effective plans to mitigate against digital exclusion experienced by some groups of the population’.

The report was commissioned by the Health and Social Care Committee to review the evidence for the effective implementation and appropriateness of the Government’s policy commitments around digitisation of the NHS in England.

Despite identifying some positive developments, the expert panel concluded that the major government commitments had either not been met or were not on course to be fulfilled.

Professor Dame Jane Dacre, director of UCL Medical School and chair of the Expert Panel, said: “What is particularly disappointing is that the Government recognises that the digitisation of the NHS is essential to bring about real benefits to patients, for example by helping them to monitor and manage long-term health conditions independently.

“Yet time and again, promises have been made but not delivered, hampering wider progress. For example, using data sharing to improve research and planning, which we’ve rated as inadequate.”

Steve Brine MP, Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, said: 

“The Panel’s detailed work provides evidence of the Government’s overall ‘inadequate’ approach to its commitments to digitise the NHS and will feed into the Committee’s work, shaping the recommendations we make to Ministers.”

Other commitments evaluated by the expert panel included the delivery of integrated health and care records and ensuring the workforce had the necessary digital skills.

You can read the full report online here.