NHSX publishes digital guidelines for NHS trusts

NHSX follows pandemic investment in digital with new framework to continue transformation

Posted 2 September 2021 by Christine Horton

NHSX has published a new digital framework setting out what the NHS should be doing to make better use of digital technologies.

The What Good Looks Like (WGLL) guidance describes a common foundation that should be in place across the NHS. It ranges from using a secure digital infrastructure to ensuring that digital systems are designed to meet the needs of healthcare staff and patients.

“The pandemic enabled us to achieve a level of digital transformation that might have otherwise taken several years. As we move into the recovery period, it is critical that we build on the progress we’ve made and ensure that all health and care providers have a strong foundation in digital practice,” says NHSX on the framework’s website.

NHSX says WGLL is directed at all NHS leaders, as they work with their system partners, and sets out what good looks like at both a system and organisation level. It describes how arrangements across a whole ICS, including all its constituent organisations can support success.

WGLL is included in both the ICS design framework and the NHS Operational Planning and Contracting Guidance, reflecting the expectation that the standards in the WGLL framework will be used to accelerate digital and data transformation.

NHSX says it will provide tools to support the NHS in its digital transformation journey. These will include an assessment framework to measure its level of digital maturity. This will help identify gaps and prioritise areas for local improvement. “Assessments will be repeatable so you can track progress year-on-year,” it says.

“We will provide frontline support in the form of funding, digital expertise and an online knowledge base. The knowledge base is an easy way for you to access information to support your digital transformation journey. It will include blueprints, standards, templates, real-life examples and best practice. Our goal is to ensure that you have the right information, tools and support to digitally transform services and provide better care.”

“Clear direction” for NHS trusts

“Over the past 18 months we have all appreciated the immense value of technology,” said Sajid Javid, the secretary of state for health and social care.

“This is particularly true for the NHS with digital technologies freeing up hospital beds and allowing clinicians to continue seeing patients remotely – and it will be invaluable in meeting other health challenges in the long-term.

“This new guidance from NHSX provides a clear direction to all NHS trusts on how to drive digital transformation forward and transform organisations, which will improve patient care and save lives.”