Hancock pledges 'upfront investment' to help GPs adopt new technology

The health and social care secretary has promised upfront funding to help GPs adopt new technology, after a super-practice chief executive warned that overworked practices may not have the capacity to innovate.

In a speech at the Health and Care Expo conference in Manchester on Thursday, health and social care  secretary Matt Hancock hit out at poor NHS IT in a speech setting out plans to boost technology in the health service.

He warned that hospitals being unable to access GP records was 'downright dangerous', and highlighted the importance of technologies that ‘talk to each other’, which could ‘improve patient outcomes, patient experience and make the lives of NHS and social care staff easier’.

However, Zulf Ali, chief executive of GP super-practice York Medical Group told the health and social care secretary that although he found his pro-technology agenda ‘very refreshing’, he feared practices ‘do not have the capacity to absorb innovation and implement it in an already very, very full day, and until some real capacity is provided - through money, through space, through capacity - then this innovation will fail because people just cannot take more change on top of change when it’s already full.’

NHS funding

Mr Hancock said: ‘I entirely recognise that even if a change reduces cost and is has more logistical appeal than what’s already in place, there is still a hump.' He added: 'I do recognise [that this area] may need some upfront investment and I intend to ensure that that is available.’

He said that such issues would be addressed as part of the ‘broader plan’ for a £200m funding package set out in the speech, which will aim to revolutionise NHS technology in trusts. Mr Hancock added: ‘I think when it comes to GP surgeries, the technology provided… should be as easy as possible to use for anybody who’s not a tech expert’.

Mr Hancock revealed that five pilot areas will roll out an NHS app next month that will give patients options including booking GP appointments. The app is due to be rolled out nationally by December, with pilots to go ahead in Liverpool, Hastings, Bristol, Staffordshire and South Worcestershire.

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