The government’s long-awaited “information revolution” strategy for health has been delayed again, and will not now be released until the autumn, the Department of Health has confirmed.
The admission came as members of the NHS Future Forum and DH sources expressed interest in conducting further work on data and information.
The strategy, which was originally expected to be published in the spring, had already been held back once while the forum conducted its listening exercise on NHS reform.
The DH’s command paper on NHS reform says: “We recently consulted on proposals for extending patient choice and for improving information and support, key companions of meaningful choice. We will respond to those consultations in the autumn.”
A DH spokeswoman told HSJ that passage referred to the information strategy.
Plans for an “information revolution” were first outlined in October 2010, and consultation closed in January.
Sir Stephen Bubb, who wrote the Future Forum’s report on competition, told HSJ he believed the panel would be asked to do more work on information.
“I’m happy to do more on it,” he said. “In terms of enabling people to exercise choice, it’s pretty important.”
HSJ understands that the DH is also open to the possibility. “There is a willingness to continue that engagement”, one source said.
Meanwhile, NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson’s letter to the health service gave details of a “national shared informatics function”. This will replace NHS Connecting for Health and support each NHS body. The new organisation is intended to ensure a more varied informatics market with more opportunities for smaller IT suppliers.
The NHS Information Centre will be given a statutory role to collect national data.