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Our Thoughts from the Southwest Connect Conference

FEDIP at the Southwest Connect Conference – Thursday 22nd June in Taunton

After an exceptionally early start to the day Sarah and I arrived at the Holiday Inn off junction 25, very easy to get to, first tick to the organisers.

FEDIP were given a table with room to put up the new stand and we were able to display promotional material from three of the professional bodies, which was a great success. We had a number of visitors to the stand asking questions about FEDIP and how to register, second tick to the organisers for allocating us space next to the tea and coffee tables.

The Keynote opening speech was delivered by James Freed, Head of the Digital Academy for Health and Care. The times that I have seen James speak he always gives an interesting and thought-provoking presentation and this was no different.

He started out by asking how we do we deliver more value tomorrow than we did today. He said that this is the reason that he gets up and goes to work each day.

He presented his version of the quadruple aims of the NHS to show how to measure value;

  • Patient experience – patients are the largest group of users that we mostly serve

  • Improved outcomes

  • Patient safety

  • To do this as well as we can

  • Reduce cost in care

  • To be more productive

  • To be more efficient

  • Provider satisfaction (workforce)

  • Reducing burnout – especially following the Covid Pandemic

  • Wellbeing

  • Population Health

  • Prevention

Data and digital opportunities have doubled compared to two years ago, however, James went on to say that 70% of digital programmes fail and by that, he meant that the programme did not meet the benefits of the business case.

To reduce the cost the NHS needs to be more and do it differently and digital underpins this in the vast majority of cases.

He did point out that our experience of technology at work is different to technology at home and that the workplace has far more regulation that has to be followed.

James said that education was hugely important in delivering the digital programmes of work not just in digital skills but also in changing behaviour and culture.

He referenced the Workforce Plan (due to be published in September); there were 46,000 staff working in DDaT in 2020, which is 3.5% of the English workforce and included clinical and non-clinical staff. There is currently a 17,500 whole-time equivalent deficit of where we need to be.

The NHS needs to make the most of the workforce, digital is spreading across the staff groups and not just in IT sat under the CIO – 41% of staff have some role in digital that are not directly managed by the CIO.

James went on to say that our educator’s job is to help everyone with their digital skills and if you looked at media 99% of staff have basic digital skills, the same cannot be said of staff working in health and care, it is significantly less. 37% of staff in health and care have a baseline knowledge of digital skills and 15% of staff do not have any digital skills.

James summarised the session by saying that the NHS needs to fail fast, learn and move on quickly to keep up with the digital agenda. We have to deliver more value tomorrow than we did today. We not only need individuals who are willing and able we also need organisations to be willing and able.

We need well-led staff and for individuals to understand their role in the organisation and to have access to technology to allow them to do their jobs. We shouldn’t allow policies to get in the way of delivering innovative digital programmes.

South West Connect Conference

Following James Dr Stephen Trowell, Laura Lewis and Jo Bangoura spoke about the digital transformation happening in the southwest and how they plan to be a leading hub in this work. An overview of the One South West Shared Care was delivered with the key message that it is essential for patients’ records to be shared between primary, secondary and tertiary care.

After the refreshment break (third tick to the organisers as there were some lovely cakes and biscuits to choose from) Simon Wellesley-Miller who is a Senior Analytical Manager at NHS England spoke about Making data count: the possibilities of data as a tool in addressing health inequalities.

Samantha Briggs, Digital Inclusion Project Manager, Spark iT followed on and presented a case study to highlight the importance of the dependence on public digital literacy and fair access to skills, data and devices when delivering digital solutions. Samantha went on to describe how Spark iT supported and funded by the NHS has been using a partnership approach to support digitally excluded residents in Somerset through a range of free-to-access services including digital cafes, home visits, telephone helpline and device and data access schemes.

Lunch was an opportunity for everyone to network and from the buzz in the dining room I can definitely say that there was a lot of that going on. The food provided was very tasty and there were a number of options available – fourth tick to the organisers.

After lunch, there were two break-out sessions and Sarah and I delivered a session on Digital, Data and Technology workforce: creating a framework to support recruitment, retention and training. This was our opportunity to let people know about FEDIP and the work that it has been doing with the job profiles and what the plans are moving forward. It was also a great opportunity for Sarah to showcase the Hub with all of its resources. We then had a really engaging conversation with those in our session about issues and challenges with the DDaT workforce.

The parallel break-out session was looking at The Challenges relating to clinical staff and how we influence standards of nursing documentation within our EPRs. This session was delivered by Samantha Sellick, Associate CNIO, NHS England (South West) and Dorothy Bean, CNIO, NHS England (South West).

The penultimate session was: Smarter Use of Data to facilitate smarter decision making and Spending in population health management delivered by Luca Ricc-Paciffici, Consultant, Health Economics Unit and Haydn Jones, Associate Director of Finance (Business Intelligence), NHS Gloucestershire.

The final session was Understanding the digital world from a blind person’s Perspective delivered by Adi Latif, Accessibility and Usability Consultant from AbilityNet. He is the world’s first blind professional snowboarder. He provided an overview of his personal lived experiences, discussing some of the scenarios where he has been let down by services.

To round off, this was a well thought out and exceptionally well delivered one day conference and highly enjoyable and worthwhile travelling for – fifth and final tick to the organisers.

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