15 October - non-executive directors webinar

15 October 2021

This week’s session began in conversation with Andy Vernon, non-executive director, Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Overheard during the discussion:

“We tend to think of the US as a pioneer in this [digital technology] but what they don’t do is connect together through digital means. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up about our digital developments being behind that of other countries. Our technology capabilities may be behind but we’re not the only ones in the UK grappling with this, if you look at other departments and sectors they’re struggling too as their technology is old as well. We’re somewhere in the middle but of course it is additionally complex for us because we’re running a system as a whole and we’re trying to set this up across the ICS.”

“Building an IT system is not dissimilar from building a hospital, in many ways. You design it, you commission it and you build it. I would also say to not feel bad about challenging the hype around digital. For example, when people raise artificial intelligence, you need to ask what they mean by that and what it will mean for patients as quite often there needs to be more thought in using these phenomena.”

“Do we actually need a national system? We do locally and possibly regionally but is a completely connected national system an unnecessary pipedream in fact? What would it actually offer patients? We only need local hospitals to talk to local GPs and don’t need to transfer information from, for example, Blackpool to Cambridge as it’s not relevant.”

“To what extent is digital deprivation a problem? Particularly from a mental health perspective some really may not like digital consultations but others will so where do we focus our attentions.”

“Pursuing the iceberg analogy of trusts' IT infrastructure, a difficulty for board members is that, unlike a visibly derelict building, failing or inadequate infrastructure is not obvious until it fails, by when of course is too late. It may, however, need significant sums of money for which boards, clinicians and patients will see no overt benefit to make safe.”

“These accessibilities are a huge leap forward for certain communicable groups but are actually a step back for others that don’t have digital access. Technology can utterly liberate certain groups. For example, when texting was first introduced it was a huge leap forwards for the deaf community as for the first time they could communicate freely and didn’t have to wait until their local deaf community was held to talk to others. There is therefore opportunity and challenge in this.”

“I believe digital care means different things to different profile groups and communities. An understanding of this from a national user survey would be beneficial. Do patients feel comfortable to share confidential information remotely? It may seem like a barrier by the patient, between healthcare services and patient care.”

These meetings are by invitation and are open to all NHS non-executives directors, chairs and associate non-executive directors of NHS providers. Others may attend by special invitation. For further details, visit our events page.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions about these webinars, please contact: events@good-governance.org.uk