The Government in England has announced that it is planning to streamline the NHS systems as part of an IT upgrade, with around £40 million being set aside to help hospitals and clinics introduce single-system logins in the next year.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that GPs and staff throughout the NHS would save significant time logging into NHS computer systems thanks to a multi-million pound boost to technology.

He said IT systems in the NHS are so outdated that staff often have to log in to up to 15 different systems to do their jobs, and that doctors could find themselves using different logins for anything from ordering x-rays and getting lab results to accessing A&E records and rotas.

Matt Hancock said it was time to "get the basics right". He said: "It is frankly ridiculous how much time our doctors and nurses waste logging on to multiple systems. Too often outdated technology slows down and frustrates staff."

The Government has set up a new agency called NHSX to drive forward progress on technology. Projects include closer integration of NHS records and social care, and greater use of artificial intelligence.

The investment will support projects similar to those seen at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool, which has implemented single sign-on technology and reduced time spent logging into multiple computer systems from one minute 45 seconds to just 10 seconds.

The “logins project” will focus on three main areas including working with IT system suppliers to standardise logins and provide multi-factor logins such as fingerprint access; ensuring trusts update their processes to give staff appropriate access permissions for the systems they need to treat patients; and integrating local and national systems.

British Medical Association (BMA) Council Chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said time was certainly being wasted logging on to multiple systems. However, he stressed that, on its own, the move would not solve all the problems. He pointed out that many of the IT systems themselves were "antiquated" and needed upgrading, which would require real investment in IT infrastructure above that promised in this announcement.

NHS Providers Communications Director Adam Brimelow agreed that wider IT systems needed investment, particularly in areas such as mental health, community services and ambulance trusts which often involved remote working for staff, although he agreed that the issue of multiple logins was still a "very real and pressing issue".

The announcement follows a call from the Government for the NHS to phase out the use of fax machines this year.

Last reviewed 7 January 2020