• Government aims to cut time spent by NHS staff logging in to computers
  • £40m to be spent across provider landscape
  • New “digital aspirant” programme to start in 2020-21

NHSX will spend £40m on improving login times for staff across the health service, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.

The agency, created by health and social care secretary Matt Hancock last year, will distribute the money across the provider landscape in a bid to cut the time staff spend logging in to trusts’ computers.

The DHSC confirmed the money will come from “existing NHSX budgets” for 2020-21 but could not confirm what the total NHSX budget for that year would be.

In a statement, Mr Hancock said he had “lost count of the amount of times staff complain about” being forced to log in to multiple systems, which “can be time consuming and also requires busy staff to remember multiple complex passwords”.

The money will fund projects similar to work carried out at Alder Hey Children’s Foundation Trust, which implemented “single sign-on technology”. The trust reported 130 hours of staff time being saved daily through the technology.

A DHSC spokeswoman said the department and NHSX will work with “regions, sustainability and transformation partnerships and integrated care systems, and the providers they lead, to establish where funds are needed”.

Mr Hancock said: “It is frankly ridiculous how much time our doctors and nurses waste logging on to multiple systems.”

He added: “I want to harness the best digital technology to… ease the burden on our staff, and to do that we need to get the basics right.”

The DHSC also confirmed to HSJ that a “digital aspirant programme” — first mentioned by Mr Hancock last month — would start in 2020-21, with the aim of “all providers having their capability boosted by 2024”.

Asked for more details on how this programme will work, the DHSC spokeswoman said: “We will consider the local circumstances of providers to inform the level of investment needed.”

Asked how much money will be made available, the spokeswoman said NHSX’s budget is being reviewed and will be “confirmed” in the upcoming Spending Review.

Mr Hancock also pledged to design “a model of what excellence looks like”, so that “every provider… knows what they need to do to be outstanding on technology in the 2020s”.

The DHSC said the Care Quality Commission will assess trusts against this model in future inspections. Asked when the model would be designed and how it would differ from the current CQC inspection regime, the spokeswoman said: “This is emerging work and we will announce further details in due course.”

She added: “The first step, which NHSX will kick off shortly, is to work with the whole health and social care system to define what good looks like in tech.”