by Edward Qualtrough

Health Secretary Matt Hancock reiterates CIOs should have NHS board representation

Jan 30, 2020

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has reiterated his call for CIOs in the NHS to be on their organisation’s boards – and challenged CEOs, board members and clinical leaders to improve their understanding of how technology can transform the NHS.

In November 2018 the Health Secretary championed the role of the CIO saying that chief executives at NHS boards who do not work with CIOs should “be asking serious questions”.

Addressing the Healthcare Alliance on Tuesday 28 January 2020, the former Secretary of State for Digital Culture, Media and Sport announced a £140 million provision to support the development of artificial intelligence services for healthcare. Hancock added that technology leadership, along with the expertise in NHSX and NHS Digital, was at the heart of making life better for patients and staff in healthcare.

“That means our tech leadership – the CCIOs and CIOs and their teams,” Hancock said. “I want to see a digital and tech leader on every board, there’s no excuse.

“We need to turn that community of gifted enthusiasts into a recognised and respected profession – feeling part of a wider movement, knowing that around you, there are others who share your passion to improve things.”

CEO and board support

Hancock called for cultural change where the “doctor who leads her trust’s adoption of technology gets as much kudos as the doctor who leads her medical department” – and added that the transformation required was bigger than the realm of just Chief Information Officers and Chief Clinical Information Officers.

“Every CEO needs to be comfortable and competent in leading digital transformation, every board needs to know what questions to ask, how to hold their CEO to account, every medical director and chief nurse needs to know how technology is going to transform what their teams do and lead that adoption,” Hancock said.

“If everyone leaves it to the IT department, it will fail.

“If everyone owns it, if it’s clinically led, if the board and the CEO and the top team all have skin in the game, then, and only then, has it a chance of success.”

People and culture

The Health Secretary echoed recent sentiments shared by CIOs at the CIO 100 celebration and CIO Summit events that empowering your organisation’s people, whether skilled medical practitioners or other professionals, was the ultimate aim of digital transformation initiatives.

“In the end, this whole agenda is not about the technology, it’s about people,” Hancock said.

“It’s the kind of tech that helps humanise a difficult and demanding environment, by freeing you up to do more of the work you love.

“Giving clinicians back the gift of time and allowing them to care.”

Hancock’s full speech discussing the new AI Lab, NHSX, NHS Digital and technology leadership is published here.