NHSX: new joint organisation for digital, data and technology

New organisation will take forward digital transformation in the NHS, allowing patients and staff to benefit from the latest digital systems and technology | Department of Health and Social Care

A new joint unit, NHSX, will be created to bring the benefits of modern technology to every patient and clinician. It will combine the best talent from government, the NHS and industry.  NHSX will aim to create the most advanced health and care service in the world to diagnose diseases earlier, free up staff time and empower patients to take greater control of their own healthcare. NHSX will work with the NHS and the wider digital economy to build world-class digital services. These will improve care for patients and enable medical research.


NHSX’s responsibilities will include:

  • setting national policy and developing best practice for NHS technology, digital and data – including data-sharing and transparency
  • setting standards – developing, agreeing and mandating clear standards for the use of technology in the NHS
  • ensuring that NHS systems can talk to each other across the health and care system
  • helping to improve clinical care by delivering agile, user-focused projects
  • supporting the use of new technologies by the NHS, both by working with industry and via its own prototyping and development capability
  • ensuring that common technologies and services, including the NHS App, are designed so that trusts and surgeries don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time
  • making sure that all source code is open by default so that anyone who wants to write code for the NHS can see what we need
  • reforming procurement – helping the NHS buy the right technology through the application of technology standards, streamlined spend controls and new procurement frameworks that support our standards
  • setting national strategy and mandating cyber security standards, so that NHS and social care systems have security designed in from the start
  • championing and developing digital training, skills and culture so our staff are digital-ready
  • delivering an efficient process for technology spend, domain name management and website security

Full story at Department of Health and Social Care

Improving Palliative Care: The Conversation Project

This project introduced by the Palliative Care Team at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust aims to support the education, development and support for staff to increase the quality of end of life care for patients, families and staff across the Trust |  NHS England | The Atlas of Shared Learning


Nursing leadership in the Palliative Care Team at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust identified that staff had more confidence in supporting patients with palliative and end of life care in the last few days of life compared to the weeks and months prior to a patient dying. This unwarranted variation led to the Palliative Clinical Nurse Specialists initiating a response with ‘The Conversation Project’.

The Conversation Project was developed to support and provide the focus for change that had been identified as needed.

The things that needed to change included:

  • An earlier recognition that the patient is approaching the end of their life or is facing an uncertain future;
  • To facilitate and raise awareness for the need for earlier conversations with patients and families about their current situations;
  • To improve the documentation of those important conversations;
  • To include these discussions in the ward multidisciplinary team (MDT) meetings to support a shared involvement and understanding of the needs of the patient and family;
  • To improve the transfer of information pertaining to a patient’s end of life on discharge or transfer of care;
  • To bring about a cultural shift in how their hospital recognised and engaged in the care of the dying;
  • To ‘normalise’ end of life conversations and to help staff recognise that anyone of us could be with patients when they wish to discuss their fears and wishes as their condition deteriorates.

Full detail about the project at NHS England

The Topol Review

Health Education England | February 2019 | Topol review

The Topol Review, led by cardiologist, geneticist, and digital medicine researcher Dr Eric Topol and produced by HEE, explores how to prepare the healthcare workforce, through education and training, to deliver the digital future.

Image source: topol.hee.nhs.uk

The Topol Review is now published and it makes recommendations that will enable NHS staff to make the most of innovative technologies such as genomics, digital medicine, artificial intelligence and robotics to improve services. These recommendations support the aims of the NHS Long-Term Plan, and the workforce implementation plan, helping to ensure a sustainable NHS.


The Topol Review Preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future 


About the Topol Review 

See also:

The Health Foundation Preparing health care workforce for a digital future will require Herculean effort at all levels

The Daily Telegraph Alexa-like bots will listen out for suicidal patients under NHS technology revolution

The Guardian Robots and AI to give doctors more time with patients, says report

How NHS investment in proton beam therapy is coming to fruition

Limb, M. | 2019| How NHS investment in proton beam therapy is coming to fruition | BMJ|364|l313 | https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l313

Winter 2019 will be a landmark for the National Health Service, as it will mark the opening of the NHS’s first high energy proton beam therapy unit, at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester. Adrian Crellin, NHS England clinical lead for proton beam therapy says: “It is a confirmation that radiation oncology is absolutely a key part of modern cancer treatment.” 

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The two new £125m centres will each treat up to 750 patients a year. “Many of the patients we’ll be treating will be children, young people, and those with what could loosely be termed as rarer tumours,” says Ed Smith, who heads the Christie unit.

Research has advanced since the NHS announced investment in the two national proton beam centres in 2012. Smith, a consultant clinical oncologist, says protons now have “an increasingly proved role in the indications we will treat” and suggests the evidence is “beginning to firm up” for the reduction of long term toxicities.

Conventional radiotherapy uses x rays from multiple directions; a modern variant is high precision, intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), which aims to maximise the dose to the tumour while minimising the dose to the surrounding tissue (Source: The BMJ).

Read the full story at the BMJ 

The full article is available to NHS staff via Open Athens, alternatively contact the Library for a copy

Developing Innovative Volunteer Services in the NHS 

Helpforce | February 2019 | Developing Innovative Volunteer Services in the NHS 

This report summarises the key Insight and Impact findings from the five hospital trusts in the first Helpforce innovators programme. The publication of this report coincides with the launch of Helpforce’s new Volunteering Innovators Programme. 

Over the next 18 months, Helpforce will work with 12 new NHS hospital trusts (with 10 being funded by NHS England and two by the Royal Voluntary Service) to develop high-impact volunteer innovations that will be refined and shared to help other trusts in the UK adopt effective volunteer services.

Image source: helpforce.community

The ten funded by the NHS England grant will each receive a £75,000 grant, and all twelve will have access to a range of supporting services, digital tools, resources and guidance. The trusts, who were chosen through a competitive process which received 115 applications from 90 trusts, will focus on a range of specific volunteer roles. The volunteer interventions have been identified as those which could make the most impact if refined, tested and scaled to other NHS settings.

In order to support continuous improvement and impact management, the trusts collected both insights data, which is predominantly anecdotal and observational, and impact data, which is designed to measure impact in a more systematic, robust way. Insight gathering took precedence during the early parts of the project, especially as the trusts were establishing their new interventions and learning how to run and measure their projects. Impact work still played a role in this early stage – mainly through talking with patients, staff and volunteers, as well as capturing data from these stakeholders through surveys  (Source: Helpforce).

See also:

Helpforce  Launching our Volunteer Innovators Programme and two new reports

In the news: How NHS workers really DO calm nerves and boost care: Hospital volunteers help prevent malnutrition, falls and loneliness, research shows