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NHS Digital CEO Sarah Wilkinson told clinicians and senior health leaders how the organisation is supporting the health and care sector to respond to Covid-19, in a keynote speech at the Rewired event today (4 March).
The speech entitled ‘NHS Digital’s Response to Covid-19’ outlined how key triage systems such as NHS Pathways and 111 Online are supporting the NHS response in a time of “unprecedented citizen interaction with digital health channels”.
Sarah told the audience that the NHS is “facing a fundamental new and different demand profile” which is having an impact on health and care systems. The changes include a demand for new ways of working and the need to quickly adapt to evolving clinical protocols. These changes apply not only to NHS systems, but also to the large network of system suppliers.
“At the moment we are moving to digital channels across healthcare,” she said. “That is great, and we would like to see more of it.”
The speech set out some of the recent work delivered by NHS Digital to support the challenges posed by Covid-19. This includes rapid changes to the clinical algorithms in the Pathways system; enabling as many people as possible to access 111 triage processes digitally, via 111 Online or the NHS App; updating NHS.UK with the latest information and advice; and collecting data on Covid-19 readiness, reported cases and more, from across the system, to inform NHS England and Public Health England.
Sarah described the Pathways and 111 Online systems in more detail, explaining their importance to NHS triage services and the delivery of rapid changes to the system in response to the epidemic and demand from the public to access health advice through digital channels.
The Covid-19 routing was introduced on 111 Online on 26 February and is also available through the NHS App, offering new ways to access the latest information and support the delivery of care.
She further explained: “Over the coming weeks it is likely that the systems will have to constantly evolve as the situation changes.”
Sarah finished with a summary of what NHS Digital is doing internally to build resilience in the face of the epidemic, and praised the hard work of staff whose efforts have enabled these rapid and essential system changes to be made.
NHS Digital attended the two-day event at Kensington Olympia in London, which brought together leaders and innovators in health IT.