NHSX chief shares lessons learnt since organisation was launched

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The chief executive of NHSX has spoken about lessons the organisation has learnt since it was launched in 2019. 

Speaking at the GIANT Health Event on December 1, Matthew Gould was questioned about the projects NHSX has been involved in.

He listed the deal with Microsoft to roll out Teams across the NHS, the publication of information governance (IG) guidance and the launch of the Digital Aspirant programme as key achievements.

“A lot of it is quite slow burn so it’s not stuff I can point to and say ‘look here is this fantastic thing we’ve built’ because actually what we are trying to do is systemic change,” he added.

“We’ve learnt a lot, the process of creating a contact-tracing app was, as I have said publicly before, a bumpy one.

“We did what we were set up to do, which was take on a risky project, do it properly, create optionality, test the options we built and work out which one was best.

“We’ve now got an app which has, I think, got the best functionality of any of its kind in the world and one of the highest levels of take-up in the world and was the fastest downloaded app in UK history.

“So a complex story to get there but we got there.”

Gould also expanded on what he has learnt since he took charge of NHSX in July 2019.

He said: “I’ve learnt change in health and care is really tough. The best piece of advice I had from one of the people I go to– I asked her what tools and levers do you need to use to effect real change in the NHS and she said ‘all of them’.

“Not only is that true but it is all of them plus time.

“I’ve learnt that its very hard to get a system which is under enormous short-term pressure to think collectively about the much longer term but we’re doing it.

“I’ve learnt that money is important but actually money is only one of the tools that we need to be using.

“Not a day goes by when I am not reminded that ultimately this isn’t about computers and software – it’s about people and its about system and its about culture.”

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