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NHS: Take-up of New Technology

Volume 670: debated on Tuesday 28 January 2020

5. What steps he is taking to ensure the take-up of new technology by the NHS to support effective delivery of its services. (900431)

24. What steps he is taking to ensure the take-up of new technology by the NHS to support effective delivery of its services. (900451)

Using the best technology is good for patients, clinicians and the NHS. Work is under way to drive through the use of new technology, including electronic referrals and electronic prescribing, and to end the painfully slow logins in some trusts.

My right hon. Friend will know that the Future Fit programme, if passed, would have brought not only £312 million but a lot of innovative, pioneering technology into the county of Shropshire. Unfortunately, as he knows, the programme has been blocked thus far by the Labour-controlled, medically illiterate Telford and Wrekin Council. Does he agree that investing in technology would help patients and clinicians and would save money in the long term?

Yes, I do. It is striking how much clinicians working on the frontline are desperate for improvements in the technology they use. Our announcement over Christmas that we will have a single login, which is seemingly so simple, brought enormous enthusiasm from clinicians who spend hours of their week doing things that most of us can do with the click of a button on the systems we use.

My hon. Friend has been an assiduous campaigner for health investment in Shrewsbury, both physical capital investment and investment in modern technology.

I welcome the phasing out of outdated technologies, such as fax machines, in the NHS. As the switch-off date approaches, what steps is NHS England taking to ensure that patient records can be transferred electronically between primary and secondary healthcare providers?

My hon. Friend is spot on. We are driving interoperability so that the right people can see the right records at the right time. We will mandate that technology used in the NHS must allow for such interoperability, and we will set standards.

My hon. Friend started the “axe the fax” campaign, in which I was happy to play my part. Faxes are terrible for efficiency and for data security—even straightforward email is so much better—and we will drive up data security by axing the fax across the NHS.

What specific investment is being directed to supporting the 11 new radiotherapy IT networks that are required to provide a world-class radiotherapy service and improve cancer outcomes and survivability?

Radiotherapy is a good example of part of the NHS that can benefit hugely from improved technology now and from the cutting-edge artificial intelligence-type technologies that are coming down the track. I am happy to look at any specific proposals the hon. Gentleman has. We have a broad programme to support the technology needed in radiotherapy.

I am disappointed that the Secretary of State could not come to the opening last Friday of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre in my constituency, which is looking at linking research into the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases with physical activity, using new technologies including robots. I am pleased that he has contributed £14 million to this project. He has missed that opportunity, but may I invite him to come to the centre and to discuss how he can help to set up a centre for child health technology, again using innovative and technological solutions, towards which we will expect his contribution to be helpful?

The hon. Gentleman is a man after my own heart. I am sorry that I missed the ribbon cutting, as I love a good ribbon cutting, especially where the project sounds so brilliant and innovative, bringing different parts of the NHS together and helping clinicians in order to help patients. I am glad that he is as enthusiastic as I am about our £14 million investment.