Hancock urges NHS chief execs to get on board with CIOs

Matt Hancock has urged NHS chief executives to ensure they have a CIO on their board.

In a keynote at an event in London on 28 November, the health secretary spoke about leadership in the NHS and referenced the culture towards technology.

He said: “Improving technology is only a small part about the technology.

“It’s mostly about culture. Leaders must ensure their staff have the right skills to constantly innovate and continuously realise the benefits that technology can bring, from basic, good IT to the huge opportunities such as genomics, AI and digital medicines will bring to the NHS.”

Hancock added that it was not always about the technology, but instead possessing “the right skills and capability in management and leadership.”.

He said: “So if you’re a chief executive, I don’t expect you to know everything about tech, but I do expect you to have a chief information officer on the board who does.

“Because the best leaders know their own shortcomings and take action. They’re not afraid to seek out support, surround themselves with good people and empower others to take decisions if they have more expertise.”

Bringing more CIOS, CCIOs and CNIOs onto the board of healthcare organisations was an issue explored at length by delegates at this year’s Digital Health Leadership Summit.

During a session entitled ‘Digital leadership essential for boards’, a three-strong panel of chief information officers debated the arguments for and against CIO or CCIOs having board voting rights.

Hancock’s speech also made reference to Eric Topol’s review, which will look into what leadership and training is needed to make best use of technology within the NHS.

Hancock said: “How are technological developments likely to change the roles and functions of clinical staff over the next 10 or 20 years?

“What are the implications for the skills required?

“What does it mean for the selection, training and development of current staff and future NHS workforce?

“Those are all questions he [Topol] is asking and will report on in the new year to help NHS leaders plan and prepare for change.”

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