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New government strategy for rapid digitisation of social care

A new data in health strategy, Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data, was published 13 June 2022.The strategy is designed to give:

• Patients greater access to GP records through the NHS App and power over how data is used including simplified opt-out processes. • Researchers will be able to access data in secure ways through secure data environments to drive innovation and deliver cutting-edge patient care • Using data to drive greater efficiency will support the NHS as they work to clear the coronavirus (COVID-19) backlog • £25 million has been announced for rapid digitisation of social care to meet commitment for at least 80% of social care providers to have digitised care records in place by March 2024.

It is claimed that millions of patients will benefit from faster, more innovative treatment and diagnosis following publication of a new data strategy for health and social care.

Making better use of data in social care

Currently only 45% of social care providers use a digital social care record and 23% of care home staff cannot access the internet consistently at work. The data strategy reinforces the ambition for at least 80% of social care providers to have a digitised care record in place by March 2024.

Better use of data is central to the government’s mission to integrate health and social care. Following a £150 million funding commitment to drive rapid digitisation in the adult social care sector, the strategy outlines how integrated care records will enable smoother transitions between NHS services and social care, including quicker discharge from hospital, freeing up valuable space.

To support this, £25 million will be made available in 2022 to 2023 to scale up the investment and implementation of digital social care technology across England with integrated care systems, including adopting digital social care records (DSCR) to ensure data is captured at the point of care and can be shared between care settings.

Digital divide between NHS and social care

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid Speaking at the HealthTech summit, said: “We must be open and honest about the fact that social care lags behind the NHS when it comes to digital transformation”.

“Our social care system is home to some of our most vulnerable in our society, and so the opportunities on offer are even greater. This strategy shows our determination to close the digital divide that exists between the NHS and social care”.

Use of Technology

Technologies like remote monitoring tools are already being used successfully to provide more targeted care. The government’s digital home care projects have used remote monitoring to support over 740,000 people with care at home, including care home residents, improving their health outcomes and reducing the burden on the NHS, supporting clinicians as they focus on tackling COVID-19.

Use of the NHS App has boomed throughout the pandemic. 28 million users already have the ability to access their data and services, and statistics show that, in April 2022 alone, the NHS App enabled 1.7 million patients to order repeat prescriptions, 150,000 primary care appointments were managed, and 5 million people viewed their GP record, saving vital clinician time.

With an ambition for the NHS App to be a one-stop shop for health needs, the strategy commits to a target of 75% of the adult population to be registered to use the NHS App by March 2024.


The commitment by the government to rapid digital transformation of social care should be welcomed by the sector. Social care has undoubtedly lagged behind the NHS in the use of digital data, but this is hardly surprising given the lack of government investment.

At last, the penny is beginning to drop. The government has finally recognised that investment in social care digital data is central to the achievement of its ambitions of closer integration between social care and the NHS. This will speed up the process of transfer of patients from the NHS to the social care sector and free up hospital beds. That is assuming there are sufficient social care services to transfer them to.

Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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