NHS Digital to deliver new services, use data ‘more efficiently’ in latest effort to tackle coronavirus pandemic

The news comes as the number of confirmed cases in the UK jumped to over 2,600 as of the morning of 18 March.
By Leontina Postelnicu
11:33 AM

Health secretary Matt Hancock and NHS England have asked NHS Digital to undertake a series of actions that would support the UK's efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said on Tuesday.

Experts will collect and analyse data aiming to help professionals understand COVID-19 better and identify patients that have it or that are vulnerable to the disease as part of the UK’s response to the crisis.

The agency, which is the national information and technology partner of the health and care system, said new legal directions from the government enabled them to work on delivering new services and use data “more efficiently”. This includes looking at how the health service is responding to threats posed by the coronavirus.  

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“This is a rapidly moving situation and data is key to helping us understand how best to protect individuals at risk, know what is happening to patients and ensure that the NHS under pressure can deliver effectively,” said Dr Jem Rashbass, executive director of master registries and data at NHS Digital.

“We are facing one of the most significant challenges in modern times and information about the virus, and people’s experience of it is key to the research in pursuit of a vaccine or to gain new insights about the disease.”

THE LARGER PICTURE

At a press conference on Tuesday, UK prime minister Boris Johnson said more testing, more beds, greater support for health and care staff and “much better” data and technology would play a crucial in ensuring the NHS had the capacity to cope with increasing pressures.  

As of the morning of 18 March, the UK has seen over 2,600 confirmed cases, a jump from nearly 2,000 the day before. More than 56,000 people have been tested so far. Globally, the number of coronavirus infections has passed 200,000, according to the latest figures from John Hopkins University.

This week, the PM started holding daily televised press conferences to update the public on the government’s approach. He advised households to self-isolate for 14 days if someone developed a fever or a persistent cough, and told Britons to avoid non-essential travel and contact with others.

But as the virus continues to spread, he warned that the UK might have to go “further and faster” in the coming days.

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