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Creating a new NHS England: Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHS England have merged. More about the merger.

At NHS Digital, we have continued the work we started with our ‘Fit for 2020’ capability review two years ago to transform ourselves into the trusted technology partner that the NHS needs to realise its technology vision and to deliver on the opportunities technology offers to clinicians and patients.

Noel Gordon, chairman of NHS Digital


Our workforce transformation plan is equipping us with new skills, greater organisational agility and new ways of working to ensure the needs of clinicians, patients and the public remain at the heart of all we do.

We have delivered significant new digital innovations for the NHS over the past 12 months, starting with the citizen-facing tools that underpin a more patient-centred model of care: the NHS App, NHS 111 online, and the NHS login. Our nationwide services, including electronic referrals, electronic prescriptions and the Summary Care Record have all been enhanced and extended. More than 90% of first outpatient appointments in England are now made electronically, compared to about 66% in March last year.

We began to modernise clinicians’ and social care professionals’ access to patient information, improving safety, efficiency and outcomes. Initiatives such as GP Connect, Child Protection - Information Sharing and the National Record Locator are helping our digital services keep in step with the reconfiguration of care settings and care pathways. All these innovations signal a more fundamental shift towards an integrated and open IT and data environment across all of our health and care platforms.

NHS Digital is also the national custodian of critical health technology infrastructure. We design, build and run one of the most complex messaging networks in the country and deliver outstanding responsiveness, reliability and speed. In October 2018  alone, the NHS Spine handled a record one billion messages, about the same as all of the  transactions on all services over the whole year. Messaging reliability on the Spine has  been constant at 100% for three years and system response  times  are about 15 times faster than they were in 2014.

We are the custodians of the nation’s patient data and have a statutory duty to maintain and improve its quality, usefulness and safety. We now produce indicators on more than 1,000 different measures of NHS performance, helping leaders plan and manage the NHS’s services more efficiently and effectively, and last year we launched eight new series of statistics on contemporary trends, ranging from appointments in general practice to the mental health of children and young people in England.

Over the past two years, we have doubled the number of data collections and begun delivery of our new Data Processing Services platform which allows us to systematically combine datasets within a single data architecture. These new information streams give medical researchers, small and medium-sized enterprises in healthtech and the life sciences, NHS commissioners and service managers the rich insight they need to continuously improve services and create new possibilities in health and care.

In the coming year, we will focus sharply on implementing the digital ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan. This vision for health and care in England envisages better use of data and technology in hospitals, in social care, across integrated care settings, through online channels and as tools in the hands of the NHS workforce.

In delivering this agenda, we rely on continuously earning public trust and confidence  in  our services; we do this by demonstrating transparency, openness and integrity in all we do. We will also invest in nurturing new and stronger partnerships in the NHS family and across our wider ecosystem, including our new partnership with Health Data Research UK in support of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy and with our new technology partner, NHSX.

My responsibility as Chairman, and the stewardship role of the Board, is to ensure NHS Digital delivers on its promises and commitments to all our stakeholders and to help build a digital workforce of the future that the NHS can be proud of.

Our track record of delivering significant innovations this year has marked a watershed in our performance and shown we can rise to the challenge of helping the NHS shape, at pace, a new operating model. Patients have begun to see the benefit that digital tools can bring to managing their conditions. Clinicians, social care providers and the people who run our vital services have begun to see more efficient and effective technology solutions. The people who lead and manage the NHS have begun to see the power of information to improve the planning and management of one of the most complex health and care organisations in the world.

I am immensely proud of the contribution our people have made to this profoundly important mission and I would like to thank them all for their extraordinary efforts during a year of significant change for our organisation and for the NHS.

Noel Gordon


NHS Digital

Last edited: 18 October 2019 1:24 pm