NHS Long Term Plan: Reaction from healthcare IT leaders


A number of leading figures and companies in the health IT sector have been giving their thoughts on the NHS Long Term Plan.

Published on 7 January, the plan includes a chapter solely on digital technology which details aims for the coming years.

It states that, in 10 years’ time, the “NHS [in England] will offer a ‘digital first’ option for most, allowing for longer and richer face-to-face consultations with clinicians where patients want or need it”.

Following the publication of the document, a number of leading figures and digital companies posted their response.

This included Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive at NHS Digital, who said the plan offers a ‘hugely exciting vision’ for the health service.

She added: “A key focus of the technology and digital agenda, as with the plan overall, is allowing patients to better manage their own health and care. A broad spectrum of digital services will support individuals to take a much more proactive and responsible approach to monitoring their own health and well-being, enabling them to recognise their individual health risks and symptoms as early as possible, and manage their personal response to these risks. This, in turn, reduces the demand for health and care services.

“We know how challenging it can be for organisations, particularly those under constant pressure to deliver critical services, to adopt new technology and digital systems.

“We are completely committed to supporting NHS organisations on all aspects of this journey from technical education, to integrating new technology into services and care pathways to the design of highly usable and accessible patient-facing solutions.”

This sentiement was endorsed by national CCIO, Simon Eccles, who tweeted to say: “Good digital services are essential to improving the NHS”.

Babylon Health, the brains behind the NHS’s GP at Hand service, tweeted to say it was “committed” to helping the NHS achieve the plan.

A number of suppliers also gave their opinion on the Long Term Plan with David Hancock, client engagement director at InterSystems, welcoming it.

He added: “We expect to see the ambitions in the plan turned into positive action by the forthcoming local plans and we know that technology will be important in realising the commitments to improve patient care. We are committed to working with, and supporting, the NHS and other software suppliers in delivering the vision.”

In addition, Alan Fowles, international president at Allscripts, said the plan showed “exciting possibilities”.

He said: “It is encouraging to see that the long term plan recognises that the NHS needs a new service model for the 21st century, and that this model needs to make full use of digital technology.

“Allscripts is already working with health and care communities that want to use shared records to join-up and co-ordinate their services, and to reap the benefits of population health management.”

Despite a number of people praising the plan, some questioned whether it could all be done in the timeframes given.

Richard Murray, chief executive at The King’s Fund, said: “This is an ambitious plan that includes a number of commitments which – if delivered – will improve the lives of many people.”

He added: “While NHS leaders have done what was asked of them within the constraints of the funding settlement provided by the government, some significant pieces of the jigsaw are still missing. A number of decisions – notably on hospital waiting times – have been postponed, indicating that trade-offs and difficult choices lie ahead.”

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