Department of Health and Social Care commits to action on eight 'priority' areas

The Department has published its Bureaucracy busting document on 24 November. It was announced at the NHS Confederation’s NHS Reset Conference where Matt Hancock spoke about a new strategy to reduce excess bureaucracy – a “lean, light and more agile approach”. It is all about empowering frontline staff in the health and social care system.

The publication follows a consultation in July and the learning from the first Covid-19 wave. The Department heard over 1,000 examples of excess bureaucracy that health and care staff are facing every single day.

The document sets out eight priority areas for action:

  1. Data and information will be requested, shared and used intelligently
  2. System and professional regulation will be proportionate and intelligent
  3. Day-to-day staff processes will be simple, helpful and effective
  4. The government will legislate to make procurement rules more flexible
  5. GPs will have more time to focus on clinical work and improving patient care
  6. Appraisals will be streamlined and their impact increased
  7. There will be greater digitisation of services
  8. A supportive culture is needed at a national and local level

Here are some of the new commitments coming down the track from data to regulation to the digitisation of patient records.

Data and information governance

NHSX is to launch and then implement a Data Strategy for Health and Social Care in the coming months. It explains that this will build on the ‘good practice’ from the response to Covid-19 by ‘building on the permissive approach’ to data sharing, such as the use of Control of Patient Information notices.

In addition, the following further actions will be taken:

  • DHSC will consult on changes to primary and secondary legislation for data collection to harness beneficial changes as a result of the pandemic process changes.
  • The COPI notices issued by the Secretary of State in response to Covid-19 until March 2021 will be kept under review and NHSX will recommend they are extended if needed.
  • NHSX is leading the simplification of IG. NHSX established the Health and Care IG Panel for those who provide statutory guidance on IG including: the National Data Guardian and Information Commissioner's Office. NHSX launched the IG online portal in October 2020 to host simplified IG guidance (including COVID-19 IG guidance) for patients and service users, health and care staff and IG professionals. In parallel, NHSX launched a Red Tape Challenge to refine existing national IG guidance so it is clear and consistent.
  • NHSX is convening a new Data Alliance Partnership, bringing together key bodies such as the Care Quality Commission, NHS Business Services Authority, Public Health England and NICE, to agree principles on data collection, sharing and use to minimise the burden of data collection and processing. It will facilitate increased access to data, by making aggregate/anonymised data accessible by default, for legitimate purposes and within existing legislation.

Incident reporting

NHSE/I have published a new patient safety incident reporting framework to “support local level change and encourage organisations to strike the balance between examining incidents and implementing improvements" to promote data being asked for and used intelligently. Currently it is being piloted with a number of providers and commissioners with a view to wider implementation in spring 2022.

CQC regulation

The regulator has trailed the new 2021 strategy ahead of it formal consultation in spring 2021. Its new approach will focus on moving away from periodic inspections and employing data from a variety of sources to help assess quality of care and determine risk. This will include better data sharing with local authorities and other partners.

On the fees front, the CQC will keep fees the same for 2021/22 providing a providers registration or size does not change.

As for its regulatory approach, the CQC is embedding its new style of regulation introduced in its Transitional Regulatory Approach in September 2020. This is uses monitoring and data to inform a risk based approach to regulation and inspection.

Professional regulation

A public consultation on reforms to the professional regulation framework is expected in early 2021. Proposals to modernise the framework of the nine health and care professional regulators, including improvements to fitness to practise and better collaboration between regulators.

Improving patient record management processes

NHSX expects all areas will have shared care records systems in place by September 2021 focused on the integration of NHS Trusts and GPs for use of direct care.

NHSX is aiming to have all social care providers have access to digitised care records that interoperate with locally shared care records by 2024. Its intention is to ‘drive’ uptake of basic technology in social care and this includes connectivity, hardware and digital software. You can read an earlier post on accelerating digital healthcare here

Brace yourself for a busy 2021.

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