Future Forum carries out NEW work on information

It was interesting to see the announcement last week about the new work to be carried out by the NHS Future Forum, particularly around its role in the development of the Information Strategy. The NHS Future Forum, a group of 45 professionals from health and social care world was originally established in April 2011 to provide some independent feedback as part of the government’s listening exercise on the NHS reforms. After a long and drawn out process, the Forum made its proposals and the government took on board most of their key recommendations, which will be applied to the latest revision of the Health and Social Care Bill which will be put to the parliament after the summer recess.

According to the announcement from the Department of Health, the NHS Future Forum will carry out new work covering the following four areas:
information: how to make information improve health, care and wellbeing
education and training: how to develop the healthcare workforce to deliver world-class healthcare
integrated care: how to ensure the government’s modernisation programme leads to better integration of services around people’s needs
the public’s health: how to ensure the public’s health remains at the heart of the NHS.

It is interesting to see that information is one of the areas covered by the NHS Future Forum and once again reiterates its importance within the NHS. Professor Haslam, former president and chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners will be managing the information stream and providing independent advice on the Information Strategy.

We have been waiting for the publication of the Information Strategy since Spring 2011 and it looks like it will be further delayed, with no published date in sight. Whilst it is good news that the NHS Future Forum will be providing independent advice on the Information Strategy on the back of their recent success to get the government to listen to their recommendations on the health bill, it is likely to further delay the publishing of the Information Strategy whilst the forum takes another look at it.

This delay will only prolong the uncertainty for the suppliers who are also waiting for the technology strategy and a strategy specifically for NHS IT in light of the Public Account’s Committee’s review of the National Programme for IT. Suppliers continue to eagerly and in some cases desperately, look for direction on healthcare technology and IT and its future.

Perhaps there will be a silver lining to the cloud here and Professional Haslam will come and consult with the suppliers and will influence the Information Strategy with the magic touch of the NHS Future Forum, only time will tell, whilst we continue our wait.

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