Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has vowed to overhaul the NHS IT network, saying it would be unacceptable in any other 21st-century organisation.
The “bleary eyed” minister, who replaced Jeremy Hunt in July, said he saw first hand how staff were hindered by poor technology as he shadowed front-line staff during an overnight shift.
Mr Hancock reflected on his stint at Chelsea and Westminster hospital in a lengthy Facebook post, saying the IT has “so far to go” after he witnessed staff reverting to pen and paper.
He wrote of the “lack of technology”: “I was already motivated to improve the IT of the NHS – but boy! Chelsea & Westminster Hospital is one of the better trusts for IT, but even there there is so far to go.”
He added that a lack of “national interoperability standards” – whereby information can be shared across the NHS IT network – held staff back.
“Staff were hindered by IT in a way that we simply wouldn’t accept in any other organisation in the 21st century. Tonight has motivated me more than ever to sort this out: interoperable data standards are on their way.”
The West Suffolk MP added: “Operating on a 24-hour basis like hospitals do, you can’t depend on an individual knowing all. Handover is everything.
“This, if anything, makes the importance of improving tech even greater.”
The minister, who wore scrubs, visited wards and sat in with London Ambulance Service paramedics, also praised the “dedication and camaraderie” of NHS staff, adding that the experience would stay with him for some time.