Suffolk MP and new health secretary Matt Hancock pledges technology boost for NHS

Matt Hancock will make the speech at West Suffolk Hospital Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONS

Matt Hancock will make the speech at West Suffolk Hospital Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONS - Credit: Archant

The new health secretary will pledge a major funding package to transform technology in the NHS during a visit to West Suffolk Hospital today.

In his first speech since being appointed, Matt Hancock will announce a £487 million grant to create “the most advanced health system in the world”.

The West Suffolk MP will list technology, the workforce and prevention as his early top priorities.

“From today, let this be clear: tech transformation is coming,” he is expected to say during an address to staff at the Bury St Edmunds hospital.

“The opportunities of new technology, done right across the whole of health and social care, are vast. Let’s work together to seize them.”

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Around £412 million will be made available to transform technology in hospitals, to improve care and give more patients access to health services at home.

A further £75 million will be available for trusts to replace paper systems with electronic ones, in a bid to reduce medication errors.

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Setting out his vision for the NHS, the former secretary for digital, culture, media and sport will say: “In all my experience, the small part is finding or inventing the technology.

“The big part is embedding a culture of always looking for the best possible technology and embracing it. I want to drive that culture change.

“And I want to work with everyone across the NHS and social care system to embrace the next generation of technology.”

The appointment of Mr Hancock, after Jeremy Hunt was moved to the Foreign Office, comes as the NHS develops a 10-year plan for its future.

Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to boost funding by around £20 billion a year in real terms by 2024, in the year the health service marks its 70th anniversary.

Mr Hancock will say it is important to “make the most” of the extra cash by keeping people out of hospital.

He will add: “We must take a holistic approach to prevention.

“To reduce over prescription of unsophisticated drugs in favour of approaches like social prescribing which address someone’s physical and mental well-being.

“To make the investment in primary care and community pharmacies so people don’t need to go to hospital.

“To empower people to keep themselves more healthy at home.”

Mr Hancock will also hail the contribution of health and social care staff, saying it is “heartbreaking” to see how often many feel “undervalued”.

“I am determined that the commitment you show to your patients is matched by the commitment we show to you,” he will say.

“So I have a clear message: I value you. I admire you. I will fight for you and I will champion you.”

Shadow health and social care secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “The 4.3 million patients on waiting lists and the nearly 27,000 patients who waited over 62 days for cancer treatment last year will feel sorely let down that reducing waiting lists and stamping out rationing isn’t the first priority of the new Health Secretary.

“Investment in technology is welcome but years of Tory austerity has seen hospitals build up a £5 billion repair backlog, resulting in clinicians nationwide using hundreds of pieces of equipment that are years out of date, as recently revealed by Labour.

“And commitments to prevention will ring hollow without reversing the substantial cuts to public health budgets, which are set to reach £800 million by 2020/21.”

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