Funding to help bridge tech gap between NHS and social care

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock

Local authorities will have access to extra money to develop digital adult social care projects to support vulnerable to live independently for longer.

To bridge the technology gap between the NHS and social care, £4.5m will be given to councils to develop the projects.

The money will support local, digital initiatives, which will also aim to improve information sharing across the NHS and social care.

Initiatives the investment could fund include artificial intelligence with assistive technology: using sensors to establish normal behaviour for individuals; creating shared care records that combine both medical and social care information, with NHS and care staff able to access the record; and allowing information held by a care home to smoothly integrate into hospital IT systems as a person is admitted to hospital.

Professor Martin Green, Care England chief executive, said: ‘Care England welcomes this announcement. It is a real step forward in implementing tech to create efficiencies and ensure quality to care helping people lead meaningful lives.

‘The focus on easing communications between the NHS and social care will reap great rewards, and the government must ensure that the benefits from greater efficiencies filter down to the social care providers who are investing their own money in new tech.

‘Technology, if used well, will give NHS staff and workers in social care the “gift of time” to care rather than administrate.’

The money is part of wider government investment that will look to streamline the way NHS staff log in to computer systems. It will provide £40m to improve slow login times and help free up time for more one-to-one patient care.

NHS staff currently log in to multiple computer programmes when tending to a patient, with each programme requiring its own login details. Some staff need to log into as many as 15 different systems.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘It’s no good in the 21st century having 20th century technology at work. This investment is committed to driving forward the most basic frontline technology upgrades, so treatment can be delivered more effectively and we can keep pace with the growing demand on the NHS.’

A ‘Digital Aspirant’ programme will also be set up to assist with digital transformation projects, and a model of what excellence looks like will be designed, so that every provider, from mental health trusts to care homes, knows what they need to do to be outstanding on technology in the 2020s.

This will be assessed as part of the Care Quality Commission’s inspection regime.