The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

Tech up

The NHS will need an investment of up to £13bn to support its technology ambitions over the next five years, HSJ has been told.

The estimate, which equates to between £2.1bn and £2.8bn per year, forms part of technology and digital workstream being developed for the plan.

There are caveats around these figures but, if accepted, it would be an even bigger investment in technology than the much maligned National Programme for IT.

HSJ understands the focus of the proposed programmes includes finishing the digitalising of all hospitals, boosting the collection and analysis of NHS data, and creating new digital patient services, particularly for self care.

NHS England’s response when approached about the figure was acerbic, suggesting it may be a little premature to declare NPfIT 2.0 quite yet.

A spokesman said: “Unsurprisingly various organisations and sectors will lobby for their own agendas, but equally obviously as many across the NHS have pointed out, there is a need to be completely realistic about what can be afforded over what timelines.”

We will have to wait until the plan is fleshed out over the coming months too see which parts of this ambitious technology wish list will be funded.

A human touch

The General Medical Council has had a bruising year. It has lost the confidence of many doctors with its aggressive pursuit of fitness to practise appeals including the case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba.

Now the GMC is attempting to show it is learning and understands the wider concerns of the medical profession – that in the main, doctors make mistakes in the context of wider system failures.

A sad fact is the NHS continually attempts to avoid addressing these bigger issues but now the GMC investigators are to get human factors training to try and understand the wider context of a case against a doctor.

This is a smart move if it leads to intelligent investigations but the question has to be what the GMC will do if its investigators start to regularly and repeatedly conclude the system is to blame for medical error?