Health and Social Services Minister, Vaughan Gething, has announced plans to transform digital health and care in Wales.

First published:
30 September 2019
Last updated:

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The plans include creating the role of Chief Digital Officer for Health and Care and a new NHS Wales organisation to deliver national digital services, supported by £50 million new funding.

The Chief Digital Officer for Health and Care will define national standards for digital software and services, as part of moving to an open digital architecture, across all digital systems. The CDO will also advise Welsh Government on digital strategy, lead the digital profession, and be a champion for digital health and care in Wales.

NHS Wales Informatics Services will transition to a new standalone NHS Wales organisation, reflecting the importance of digital and data in modern health and care. The new organisation will be a Special Health Authority, like the recently established Health Education and Improvement Wales. It will have an independent chair and board, appointed by Welsh Ministers.

A Healthier Wales, the Welsh Government’s plan for health and care, identifies the development of digital services as key to delivering services fit for the future. Alongside strengthened leadership and delivery arrangements, A Healthier Wales commits to significantly increased investment in digital. A £50 million Digital Priorities Investment Fund will drive improvements across 5 themes:

  • Transforming digital services for patients and public
  • Transforming digital services for professionals
  • Investing in data and intelligent information
  • Modernising devices and moving to cloud services
  • Cyber-security and resilience

The Health Minister has also commissioned four strategic reviews of digital health and care in Wales, which will lead to the publication next year of an all Wales Digital Infrastructure Plan, a Digital Workforce Plan, a Commercial Strategy and a Communication Strategy.

Health and Social Services Minister Vaughan Gething said:

Our long-term vision for the NHS, A Healthier Wales, sets out the importance of digital technology in the future of healthcare. It plays an absolutely essential role throughout the health service and in social care, and it empowers patients and the public to manage their own health and wellbeing.

I want everyone in Wales to have access to the highest quality digital health and care services, including professionals, the public and patients.

Two expert reviews have informed the plans I am announcing today. A new Chief Digital Officer will strengthen leadership, setting common standards on an all-Wales basis. A new NHS Wales organisation focussed on digital will strengthen the delivery of national services. And an additional £50 million of investment into strategic priorities will speed up change.

These are landmark changes, but there is more work to do, and I have commissioned further reviews in priority areas. I am determined that we maintain the pace of transformation, so that we use new digital technologies to benefit the public and patients in Wales, and to make our health and care services sustainable for future generations.