Around £2.3 billion of the financial allocation will be used to fund more diagnostic tests, such as CT, MRI and ultrasound scans.
Health organisations and industry experts have welcomed the extra cash but fear this will not solve the issue of staff shortages. There are calls for in-depth digital transformation and the greater use of AI and robotics.
WHY IT MATTERS.
The funding will help by providing new equipment, which the Treasury says is equivalent to millions more checks, scans and procedures for non-emergency patients, as legacy digital equipment and out-of-date technology needs to be replaced.
It has been reported that the backlog in the NHS system is due to a bottleneck in access to tests. However, there is a shortage of staff and specialists to conduct the tests.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
Healthcare leaders have welcomed the funding and think that the new and improved IT systems will help NHS staff have access to the fastest broadband, and digital patient records will ensure patients get the best care, regardless of where they live.
Experts also believe there needs to be concerted increases in spending so that workforce and digital transformation can be planned for over the next 5 to ten years.
One of the biggest issues in the NHS is the workforce and shortage of staff. It takes years to train staff, so backlog and urgent as well as emergency care will not be solved immediately by an increase in spending.
ON THE RECORD
“The focus on digital technology in today’s funding announcement is welcome. But other sectors that have successfully adopted digital technology have benefited from long-term, ongoing investment at a significantly higher level than we have seen in healthcare to date,” Pritesh Mistry, fellow in Digital Technologies at The King’s Fund said.
“And money is not the only barrier to the NHS using digital technology to improve patient care and staff workload. Supporting staff and changing the culture of organisations will also be key to delivering meaningful change to how services are designed and delivered. Digital transformation needs staff, patients and leaders to have the time to engage. With funding comes expectations of progress which must be balanced with the other demands on the system or we risk perpetuating poorly implemented IT and rushed digital strategies.
“To realise the promise of digital technology, ministers will need to focus on supporting staff and getting the basics right as well as developing more sophisticated …….