An overview of some of the digital initiatives being explored by NHS Gloucestershire.
Having suggested the committee consider the use of digital technology in the delivery of services by NHS Gloucestershire, Cllr David Brown was invited to introduce the item.
Cllr Brown referred to the benefits of developing a ‘joining up your information’ approach when considering the current and future needs of the delivery of services by NHS Gloucestershire. He also highlighted some of the risks and challenges this may involve, and the need to strike a balance in outweighing risks to security and data protection with advances in communication and the efficient sharing of information within the county.
Paul Atkinson and Peter Wathen from NHS Gloucestershire gave a detailed presentation on Digital Health Care in Gloucestershire. To view the presentation, please refer to the link here. Members were informed that the presentation included a summary of information based on the aims and ambitions of the Gloucestershire Health and Care Digital Strategy 2022-25. A more detailed version of the presentation is available and can be viewed on the Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board (ICB) website.
Key points highlighted during the presentation included: -
i. The Gloucestershire Health and Care Digital Strategy 2022-25, (published in May 2023), had been developed using a system approach, with involvement from all NHS Gloucestershire partner organisations;
ii. The strategy defines a level of ambition considered both pragmatic and achievable;
iii. The strategy recognises that significant investment is required to meet the needs of the citizens of Gloucestershire from use of digital technology;
iv. An investment case was being developed to underpin funding
discussions with NHS England;
v. The current gap in funding to be addressed from engagement in regular discussions and from prioritisation using a system approach
Outlining key activities (Year 1) included in the Outline Delivery Plan and presenting a summary of the anticipated financial investment required from which to progress the strategy, members were informed that the financial plans for years 2022/23 and 2023/24 has been agreed, albeit, £5.4m of funding for 2023/24, whilst anticipated, had not yet been confirmed. Members were advised of the high degree of confidence the monies would be received.
Although a number of unfunded schemes formed part of the plan for the 2024/25 financial year, the ICB intended to take full advantage of any opportunities that might arise in respect of investing for the long term.
Responding to concerns about financial uncertainties, the ICB was confident the anticipated funding would be awarded.
Enquiring about cross-border arrangements and the risk of artificial intelligence brought about by the sharing of information based on different standards, members were informed that the Southwest region was anticipated to develop at an earlier pace than some of the other regions in the UK involved in the national digital programme. Dr Atkinson informed members that whilst national cross-border engagement presented some challenges, he was in constant communication and met regularly with his Welsh counterparts.
Noting concerns about the potential lack of confidence by older people in the use of digital applications, it was agreed to include the outcomes/information from the NHS Gloucestershire Frailty Project as part of the ICB report. One member expressed particular concern about the use of digital technology by people with poor eyesight and it was agreed to include an update relating to this specific concern in the ICB update report at the October meeting. Actions by NHS Gloucestershire
One member enquired if the ‘National Careline’ service formed part of the digital information sharing strategy for vulnerable people in Gloucestershire, particularly those at risk of trips and falls. Although it was confirmed that Careline did not form part of Gloucestershire’s current arrangements, it was acknowledged that this may have some benefits in the long-term, although care would need to be taken on how invasive the sharing and reporting of information might appear.
Highlighting some of the positive outcomes from investment in the NHS Gloucestershire Health and Care Digital Strategy, Dr Atkinson was able to confirm that the highest volume of patients and staff using the NHS Gloucestershire website http://www.nhsglos.nhs.uk/ had been recorded in June 2023. In addition, no security breaches and no complaints had been reported during the past 7 years.
Thanking the presenting officers for their in-depth presentation, the report was noted.