The health and social care secretary has pledged almost half a billion pounds to transform technology in the NHS in an attempt to reduce staff workloads and improve patient care.
In his first speech since being appointed to the post, Matt Hancock listed technology as one of his top three initial priorities and evangelised about how it could help achieve improvements in the other two – workforce and prevention of illness.
About £412m will be made available to transform technology in hospitals, to improve care and give more patients access to health services at home. A further £75m will be available for trusts to replace paper-based systems with electronic systems, which Hancock said could reduce medication errors by up to 50%.
Theresa May has pledged to boost NHS funding by around £20bn a year in real terms by 2024, but there have been concerns as to whether it will be enough to fix the problems the service faces.
Hancock said it was important to make the most of the extra cash by keeping people out of hospital, but Labour suggested his priorities were muddled.
Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health and social care secretary, said: “The 4.3 million patients on waiting lists and the nearly 27,000 patients who waited over 62 days for cancer treatment last year will feel sorely let down that reducing waiting lists and stamping out rationing isn’t the first priority of the new health secretary.
“Investment in technology is welcome but years of Tory austerity has seen hospitals build up a £5bn repair backlog, resulting in clinicians nationwide using hundreds of pieces of equipment that are years out of date, as recently revealed by Labour.”
By contrast, Janet Davies, the chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, welcomed Hancock’s promise to fight for staff, describing it as “much-needed and long overdue”, but she also sought support for increasing staffing levels. More
Nearest tube – Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).
Nearest Railway Station – Elephant & Castle
Buses from Elephant and Castle – ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45