Poor communication between central and local NHS ‘hindering digitisation’

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Better communication and engagement between policy makers and NHS providers is needed to support the digitisation of healthcare, the Nuffield Trust has said.

In a report released last week, ‘Achieving a digital NHS: Lessons for national policy from the acute sector’, the independent health think tank said while current policy approach was useful in achieving wide spread digitization, national bodies often set “unrealistic timeframes” without understanding the supplier market or local NHS organisations.

Poor communication on how national policy impacts local plans; why a particular solution has been suggested; and the benefits it will bring, are hampering the adoption of technology in the health system.

Establishing a “clear dialogue” between local and central bodies is “essential” for ensuring national policy supports local digital advancement, the report said.

This should include the development of clearer digital standards, including appropriate deadlines for implementation and better guidance for how they should be used and interpreted.

This fragmented approach to digital policy in the NHS is expected to be addressed by the newly formed NHSX, but the report notes there is still “uncertainty” as to how body will work in the future.

Conversely, some national policy makers involved in the report felt “frustrated” with local providers attitudes and felt organisations should be able to take more responsibility for their digital programmes.

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