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Patient Experience: Digital Technology

Volume 659: debated on Tuesday 7 May 2019

7. What steps he is taking to improve the patient experience through the use of digital technology. (910719)

Providing patients with modern digital services that are safe, effective, convenient and personalised is central to our NHS long-term plan.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer and for the energy that he brings to this brief. Does he agree that digital health not only improves healthcare systems but also provides a platform for place-based and population-based prevention, better diagnosis, patient empowerment, novel mental health therapies and accelerated access to the innovative treatments that I introduced as a Minister? This is now being pioneered in some parts of the country. Will he meet me and the Birmingham health partners to look at an interesting idea for digital place-based health impact bonds?

Yes, I am always happy to meet my hon. Friend to talk about interesting new policy innovations like that. It sounds right up my street. In fact, I met the Mayor of the West Midlands combined authority to discuss this subject only last week. There is a huge amount of enthusiasm and energy in this policy area, which will enable us to improve patients’ lives across Birmingham and, indeed, the whole country.

As the Secretary of State knows, because he is a member, the Babylon Health GP at Hand digital service is based in Hammersmith and Fulham. By the end of this year, it will have run up a deficit of about £35 million for my clinical commissioning group. Given that the clinical commissioning group is cutting GP hours and closing an urgent care centre overnight because it is so short of funds, when are we going to be reimbursed for that £35 million?

I do not recognise the number that the hon. Gentleman talks about, but we are changing the way in which the GP contract works to ensure that this new technology can be most effectively harnessed to deliver patient need in a way that also works for the NHS. I am slightly surprised that he has not yet got up to say thank you for our announcement on primary care services in his part of London, which we are going to be expanding while stopping the closure of A&E. A little bit of gratitude for that would also go down well.