Matt Hancock launches GP IT Futures contract

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock has launched a GP IT Futures contract as he looks to create a more open market to encourage technology firms to invest in the NHS.

During a keynote address at the King’s Fund Digital Health and Care Congress yesterday (Thursday 23 May), Hancock said under the contract, providers will have to follow standards on interoperability and data access, systems will need to be continuously upgradable and patient data will have to be securely hosted in the cloud.

‘I believe it should be as easy for a GP surgery to switch provider as it is for a small business to switch bank accounts,’ said Hancock. ‘Sick patients should not have to explain ‘why are you here’ for the umpteenth time every time they meet a new clinician. Your medical records should be accessible from wherever you are in the NHS, just as you can get your emails on any device. The new contract will help us deliver on that goal.’

He also announced that as part of a plan to combat weak cyber security, £150m is being invested to put in place protections against attacks, with more than 100 NHS boards having already received training from GCHQ accredited experts on threats and actions they need to take to protect their organisations.

Furthermore, Hancock also announced a new data security and protection toolkit for NHS staff.

‘A single set of standards to help health and social care providers improve cyber security and carry out self-assessments to measure how well they’re doing and how much they still need to do,’ explained Hancock. ‘Through the use of free and open standards we’ll be able to rapidly share cyber threat intelligence throughout the NHS.’

On the creation of NHSX, a tech transformation unit, he said: ‘The purpose of NHSX is twofold. First, it’s about cutting through the bureaucracy that used to stand in the way of tech transformation. NHSX has brought together our scattered tech leadership from all parts of the system into one decision-making point, giving them the powers and the policy tools to get things done.’

‘The second goal of NHSX,’ Hancock continued, ‘is to bring the mindset and the practices of the internet to the way that we deliver the NHS. This means nationally agreed standards and locally lead delivery. It means being open, collaborative, user-centered, agreeing our standards with the users, publishing them on the web, open sourcing any code developed in the NHS. And we’re moving health and care away from private networks like N3 and HSCN, so we can run all our services across the internet.’