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NHS leaders need support to facilitate ‘cultural shift’ toward digital transformation


By Jess Hacker
2 December 2021

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Leaders at all levels should be supported to facilitate the cultural shift needed to deliver digital transformation within their system, a report had said.

The recommendation comes after the report found nearly nine-in-10 (88%) community providers view organisational culture as among the biggest enablers of digital improvement in community services.

Published by the Community Network – which is hosted by the NHS Confederation and NHS Providers – the report surveyed staff from 34 trusts to identify key barriers to digital transformation.

It said that implementing digital ways of working means that teams will need to reconsider their operating model ‘to remove traditional silos’ that might separate IT and clinical teams, representing a ‘change in organisational culture’.

Additionally, it found that only 38% of survey respondents agreed that local systems were providing clear leadership on the digital agenda in community services.

This dropped to just over one-in-10 (13%) when considering the same question at national level.

Leaders at all levels within organisations and systems should be ‘supported to embrace digital approaches, develop digital capacity and capability, and facilitate the cultural shift necessary within the wider community workforce.’

ICS and provider leaders should also work with regional and national bodies to share best practice around improving staff’s digital training and skills.

It said: ‘As ICSs take on an increasing role in system-wide digital leadership and transformation, community providers need to be resourced and supported to maximise the potential from digital improvement and build on existing momentum in many providers.’

The report also recommended that NHS England identify and share best practice between providers and ICSs.

NHSE should also work with Health Education England to identify immediate and future skills and capability gaps within the workforce.

The report comes as the NHS is set to overhaul its current national structure for enabling digital transformation.

Last week, the DHSC announced NHS Digital and NHSX – the two key digital arms of the health services – are to merge with NHSE over the next year.

They will form the new Transformation Directorate: the body that will lead the digital transformation agenda at national and ICS level.

And a recent Government report found that digital transformation of the NHS should be accelerated in light of progress made during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Nuffield Trust this week recommended that digital solutions in the NHS should be designed in collaboration with staff and patients

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