Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services
A Healthier Wales recognised digital as a key enabler of transformational change, whilst also acknowledging the challenges of driving digital change at pace and scale across health and care in Wales. These challenges were also highlighted by the work of the Parliamentary Review of Health and Care, and in recommendations made by the Wales Audit Office (WAO) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
In response, I commissioned two major independent reviews of digital in health and care in Wales and announced that the NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) would transition from its current non-statutory status as part of Velindre NHS Trust, to a new Special Health Authority (SHA). This statement provides an update on the establishment of the SHA.
Establishing our national digital services organisation as a dedicated organisation reflects the importance of digital technology as a key enabler of change. Never has this been more evident than in the ability to rapidly deploy flexible digital solutions to support our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including our contact tracing digital platform to support Test, Trace & Protect, and facilities to enable staff to work remotely and patients to communicate with health professionals from their home.
Progress towards establishing the SHA is taking longer than anticipated due to the impact of COVID 19. The revised go live date is now 1 April 2021 and a number of milestones have been achieved:
- Agreement to the name for the SHA reflecting its role going forward - Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW).
- Publication of a consultation document outlining the functions of DHCW (https://gov.wales/digital-special-health-authority-wales). The consultation closes on 30 November 2020.
- Preparation of the necessary Legislation to be laid before the Senedd in Wales to establish DHCW as a Special Health Authority.
Today I am pleased to announce the achievement of another key milestone in the appointment of Mr Bob Hudson OBE as the Interim Chair for DHCW effective from 6 November 2020 for 12 months. This appointment is made in accordance with Section 3.3 of the Governance Code for Public Appointments and with the consent of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Mr Hudson will oversee the establishment of DHCW and the recruitment and delivery of the new board and governance framework. This appointment, made without competition, supports the challenging timeline of recruiting Officers and Non-Officers members to DHCW. These campaigns need to begin before the end of the calendar year to allow DHCW to operate from 1 April 2021.
The appointment will be remunerated at an annual rate of £38,844 for a time commitment of 13 days per month and Mr Hudson has not declared any political activity.
Mr Hudson has had significant Board-level experience within the NHS including four roles as Chief Executive, including leading the establishment of Public Health Wales NHS Trust as a national body. In addition, Mr Hudson was Director of Strategy for Health and Social Services in Welsh Government. In his final role prior to retirement, Mr Hudson was Director of the NHS Wales Collaborative, during which he co-ordinated the work of NHS organisations across Wales on a series of major strategic change projects.
His experience across Welsh Government and the NHS in Wales will be an important advantage in establishing DHCW and its place within the NHS Wales family. Mr Hudson’s experience will enable him to build effective relationships between Welsh Government, DHCW, Health Boards and Trusts, Health Education Improvement Wales and the wider health and care sector.
There remains much work to be done between now and April 2021 but I am confident, DHCW will be in place and able to make a positive impact in Wales from next year and to play its part in delivering better outcomes for patients and health professionals.