Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
This statement provides Members with an update about the progress we have made in using digital technology and harnessing health and care data. It also highlights some future plans.
Digital technology has an important part to play in delivering high-quality health and social care services and supporting people to live well. The pandemic has been a catalyst for change in the NHS and social care – as face-to-face consultations were restricted as coronavirus infections swept across Wales, new digital and data-driven services were quickly introduced to support clinicians, professionals and the public.
Using health and social care data effectively is key to providing better care and treatment and to delivering the right services at the right time and in the right place. Technology also has a role to play in giving people safe and secure access to the information they need to manage their own health and wellbeing.
Digital technology already enables data to be shared between the organisations and individuals responsible for delivering health and care services to people throughout Wales.
The Welsh Clinical Portal provides controlled access to information about people receiving healthcare and treatment, drawing on national repositories of data. The Welsh Community Care Information System helps community health and care workers, like social workers and district nurses, to record and share information they need to provide seamless care.
We plan to do more with technology and data to help drive improvements to services and deliver seamless care and treatment.
Health and care data is currently fragmented across different electronic systems and databases, which can make it difficult to share information digitally and takes time and resources to enable data to flow to where it is needed, for example, to make clinical decisions.
This issue is not unique to Wales, but we have an opportunity to make changes at an all-Wales level. Our plans include a number of innovative approaches, which will benefit the public and help services operate more effectively.
The National Data Resource (NDR) is a strategic, 10-year initiative to transform health and care in Wales through a more connected and collaborative use of data. The programme will provide users with the right data and tools to make well-informed decisions. It will support the development of a single digital health and care record for Wales, which will enable services to be centred around the individual by allowing health and care systems to draw on, and contribute to, an accurate and up-to-date single source of data.
Drawing together information in the NDR avoids the need to copy and share datasets from multiple sources, reduces duplication of effort and data, and allows the application of robust and consistent access controls and security measures.
The Digital Services for Patients and the Public programme is another example of technology and data being used to transform health and care services. The programme is developing digital applications that can help people monitor health conditions more easily, share and receive important health information and take an active part in their own health and wellbeing.
This includes the development of the NHS Wales App, which will help people to book appointments, see their test results and order prescriptions using a smartphone or tablet. The NHS Wales App will be launched later this year.
The Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio will make medicines services easier, safer, more efficient, and more effective. It will enable the electronic signing and transfer of prescriptions from the GP to a person’s pharmacy of choice or for people leaving hospital. A single record of medicines for every person in Wales will make it easier to share information with all those who need to make decisions about care and treatment, as well as for individuals, who will be able to access details of their medications through the NHS Wales App.
People want to know the information about them is secure and is being used lawfully and appropriately. We are working on a Data Promise, which will set out the principles and commitments that will apply to health and care data in Wales. We will engage widely as we develop this promise so people’s views are properly represented.
Successfully delivering these initiatives requires collaboration and co-operation between the NHS, local government, primary care providers and my officials. I am grateful for their work and look forward to seeing the impact on health and care services.
I will continue to keep Members updated as work progresses.