Ministers have hired Steve Rowe to ensure the NHS Productivity Plan, out later this year, 'improves care throughout England'

Ministers have hired Steve Rowe to ensure the NHS Productivity Plan, out later this year, ‘improves care throughout England’

A former M&S boss has been hired as an NHS productivity tsar after taking the High Street chain ‘out of the doldrums’.

Health secretary Victoria Atkins said the ‘stalwart’ turned around its fortunes by ’embracing modernity’ and is demanding the health service does the same.

Her department has hired Steve Rowe to ensure the NHS Productivity Plan, out later this year, ‘improves care throughout England’.

It comes after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a £3.4billion investment in NHS productivity during Wednesday’s Budget.

In a keynote speech at the Nuffield Trust think tank’s annual summit, Ms Atkins said the ‘enormous amount of money’ would be transformative.

It will be used to expand the use of AI, reduce paperwork for medics and improve access for patients.

A major project will involve AI listening in to doctors’ appointments so it can automatically generate patient notes.

Ms Atkins said it will cut the time medics spend on admin, so they are free to see more patients.

She told the summit: ‘We are standing on the cusp of a medical revolution, where technology, personalised therapies and better data can transform outcomes for a generation who are more health conscious than any that came before them.

‘The NHS must seize this opportunity and look to the future, not restrict ourselves to what has always been done. In fact, it needs to have – to borrow a phrase – an M&S moment.

‘This much loved British brand – a stalwart of our high streets for decades – realised that change was needed and embraced modernity, pivoting towards the next generation willing them over and securing its long term future.

‘This is what the NHS needs to do to make sure it’s there for the next 75 years.’ 

Health secretary Victoria Atkins said the 'stalwart' turned around its fortunes by 'embracing modernity' and is demanding the health service does the same

Health secretary Victoria Atkins said the ‘stalwart’ turned around its fortunes by ’embracing modernity’ and is demanding the health service does the same

It comes after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a £3.4billion investment in NHS productivity during Wednesday's Budget. In a keynote speech at the Nuffield Trust think tank's annual summit, Ms Atkins said the 'enormous amount of money' would be transformative

It comes after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a £3.4billion investment in NHS productivity during Wednesday’s Budget. In a keynote speech at the Nuffield Trust think tank’s annual summit, Ms Atkins said the ‘enormous amount of money’ would be transformative

Ms Atkins continued: ‘I love M&S and very happy to welcome Steve Rowe into the Department.

‘The reason we’re doing that is precisely because of the turnaround story that M&S has experienced in the last five, six, seven years, whereby it’s fair to say they were in the doldrums and we all worried about stores closing.

‘Now, many of the time I’ve had a conversation with colleagues admiring their beautiful new jacket and they say, “Oh yes, it’s M&S”.

‘And it’s because they have listened to what their customers have said, but they’ve also acknowledged they need to move forward and I think that bringing Steve to the Department, helping us with the productivity plan, but other forms of delivery as well, it will be a very significant step forward.’ 

Mr Rowe served as M&S chief executive from 2016 to 2022, when he quit after nearly 40 years at the firm. He had previously led their food and clothing sections.

A vast chunk of the money will help turbocharge the NHS App to make it the ‘single front door’ through which patients can access NHS services and manage their care.

Patients will be able to book and amend appointments and take a digital health check that will allow doctors to identify those at high risk of diseases and intervene early.

It is hoped the expansion will save staff time by reducing up to 500,000 missed appointments and help keep the nation healthier and in work.

Only this week, the current boss of M&S said that doing business in Britain is ‘like running up a downwards escalator with a rucksack on your back’.

Dennis Reed, director of over-60s campaign group Silver Voices, expressed concerns about the use of AI to record doctors’ appointments.

He said: ‘If patients are embarrassed about their medical issues they may not be as frank as they need to be during a consultation when it is being listened to by AI.

‘This could lead to them getting the wrong diagnosis or treatment and cause harm.’ 

Sam Smith, from privacy campaign group medConfidential, said: ‘Patients should recognise this as the creepy overreach of technology that it appears to be.’ 

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘Trust is the most important issue when implementing new technologies that have a direct impact on patient data.

‘Patient confidentiality will always be a top priority. Any suggestion that the implementation of new technologies will undermine this confidentiality is wrong and irresponsible.’

Post source: Daily mail

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