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Sarah Wilkinson delivers keynote speech at UK Health Show

NHS Digital CEO, Sarah Wilkinson, told clinicians and senior health leaders how a ‘new wave of data’ offers huge advantages to the health and care sector, in a keynote speech at the UK Health Show this week.

The speech explored the opportunities that data can deliver over the next five years through improved platforms and infrastructure such as the GP IT framework and APIs, and also identified some of the key challenges such as data quality and accessibility.

Setting out the plan to deal with these challenges, Sarah explained that NHS Digital is working with the Department of Health and Social Care to improve the uptake of data standards and will be publishing revised guidance covering key areas of work including clinical data standards and coding, cloud hosting, digital design and cyber security.

“There is no other country in the world that has the volume of data of longitude, nor medical record data, in a single system, capable of being interrogated at scale,” she said. “We are unique. It is an incredible national advantage. So, it is absolutely critical that we commit ourselves now and over the next five years to maximising the opportunities associated with the scale of data in the system.”

Sarah also talked about how NHS Digital is transforming the way that patients and clinicians access data and encouraging ‘self-service and mobility.’ She highlighted the NHS App and the Local Health and Care Records Exemplars as key initiatives which will improve the richness of data and transform care co-ordination, as people will come to expect a higher quality of data when they access their medical information more regularly.

Following the speech, Sarah was joined by Associate Chief Clinical Information Officer at NHS England, Dr Harpreet Sood, and they took questions from the crowd which led to discussions about supporting and upskilling the NHS workforce, investment in IT and technology to support technological development and interoperability in health and care.

NHS Digital had a corporate stand at the two-day event at London’s ExCel centre. The Digital NHS Stage was hosted by Chair, Noel Gordon and Programme Director for Digital Collaborations, Innovation and Digital Delivery, Cleveland Henry, on respective days with speakers from across the business. Other highlights included a Cyber Security Symposium featuring keynote speeches from Director of Data Security, Dan Taylor and Head of Operations, Chris Flynn. On day two, NHS Digital ran a Clinical Informatics congress with a keynote address by out Chief Medical Officer, Prof Martin Severs.