By Rob Benson

NHS watchers will know that getting the right decisions to be made means getting the right people in the same room at the right time. This year’s UK Health Show did just that, with five conferences in one.

Covering technology, cyber security, commissioning, procurement and estates, the event showcased examples of what the NHS is doing, and must do more widely, to deliver against the Five Year Forward View.

Andy Williams of NHS Digital set out his thoughts on the future direction of NHS Digital, and how data can be best managed. Meanwhile Andrew Rose of the Information Commissioner’s Office, sounded warning signs for bring your own device (BYOD) strategies.

“BYOD, as far as we are concerned, is another security disaster waiting to happen”, said the show’s representative from the UK’s data watchdog. “As a data controller you must remain in control of the personal information you are responsible for, regardless of who owns the device. If you allow people to get it on their own devices and take it home, can you retain and keep that control? Probably not.”

Real-world examples of how technology and information sharing could help transform health and care economies and inform sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), from Cumbria to Sheffield, were seen alongside compelling debates around how the NHS could tackle information governance, and news that the NHS is taking the threat of cyber security seriously.

The threat is very real, although CCIO Joe MacDonald did make the interesting aside that the traditional phone call and brown envelope used for current NHS communications would be unlikely to survive a privacy risk assessment if put to the test.

Rob Shaw of NHS Digital noted that the NHS is under frequent cyber  attack, with a national attack that “may or may not” have been state sponsored having been launched just this month. A session on the threat of ransomware in healthcare saw a full house. Cyber security was a strong theme.

Elsewhere commissioners were given the strong message from NHS England’s director of personalisation and choice, James Sanderson that, following on the inclusion of the need for approaches to integrated personalised commissioning (IPC) and personal health budgets (PHBs) embedded in the new multispecialty community provider (MCP) contract, putting patients at the heart of new care models (NCMs) is seen as a must-do by NHS England.

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CCGs need to plug IPC and PHBs into their NCMs, be they STPs or MCPs, and PDQ at that rate. And if they can make sense of that, plans are expected by the end of the financial year.

Patient-centred care coordination was a recurrent theme; one speaker with nine long-term conditions revealed how she had to spend most of her time between appointments and consultants until she was empowered to take more control of her own care, by working with health and care providers to tell them exactly what she needed. Putting patients in control can save time and money, but does not address the issue of territorial protectionism that looms large over many current NHS reforms.

Would procurement and estates help those walls come tumbling down? Taking forward NHS eProcurement and rationalising the NHS estate will always be hot topics for the NHS.

The exhibition floor was buzzing, with a steady flow of delegates through the day. The free ice cream from Orion Health was certainly a big draw.

Bringing these different streams together was an ambitious project, and judging by feedback from many from the day, it was a great success.

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Rob Benson

Rob Benson

Senior Communications Consultant
Rob has worked in marketing and digital roles for over 15 years, in a career spanning the NHS, academia and the private sector.

With a passion for creative ideas and their practical application, Rob is committed to delivering excellence for his clients through a full understanding of their needs and aspirations.

He has worked across technical and communication roles with organisations including BT and the Department of Health, and has run his own marketing consultancy business. His healthcare experience covers web and knowledge management for a primary care trust and commissioning support unit, and includes digital consultancy for the national end of life care workstream.

In addition, his other core skills include marketing and communications, business planning, copywriting, training, social media, and market research.

“Healthcare depends on excellent intelligence and effective communication. Great ideas and sensible advice can get lost if they are not presented in the right way, and are reaching the right people.

“This is where marketing concepts and practices can help. Shaping services to meet people’s needs and aspirations is core to both healthcare and marketing professions. Bringing the two together can have a positive impact on everyone’s experience, and it is a privilege to work with colleagues and clients who deliver this in a dynamic and exciting field.”
A little bit about Rob:
  • Yorkshire born Rob combines a love of rugby, cricket and golf with an active interest in real ale and TV detective shows.
  • Currently living in Birmingham, Rob is a father, stepfather and grandfather, and spends most of the year saving up for birthdays and Christmas.
  • Other interests including reading, walking, art and travel.

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