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NHSX appoints former health service CIO as first “digital productivity” chief

NHSX has appointed a former health service CIO as its first “digital productivity” director as it continues to flesh out its skeletal senior leadership team.

Mark Jones, formerly CIO of an NHS trust in north Cumbria, announced on Twitter that he had joined the innovation unit earlier this week. “Will be looking to see where I can help both in the current difficult times and into the future,” he tweeted.

Jones’ appointment comes as NHSX, which is staffed by teams from the department for health, NHS England and NHS Improvement, assumes a central role in the fight against Covid-19.

The unit has been tasked with managing the development of the contact-tracing app that could assist with the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions after the peak of the UK outbreak has passed.

It has also been charged with developing a new Covid-19 datastore supported by a number of US tech giants, including Amazon, Google and Palantir, and designed to provide a “robust operating picture” of how the virus is spreading and enable hospitals to allocate resources to the areas where demand is highest.

The crisis is a major test for the unit, which was launched less than a year ago with the aim of modernising the health service’s tech infrastructure following a prolonged period of under-investment.

But, as NS Tech reported last month, the unit currently has a fledgling leadership team. Its first permanent chief information officer Sonia Patel, currently CIO of two north London hospital trusts, isn’t due to join the organisation until summer, while its first chief technology officer, the former William Hill CTO David Hill, isn’t due to join until in May.

A job advert posted by NHSX towards the end of last year revealed details of the work Jones will be expected to undertake. It stated: “The Director of Digital Productivity (Mission 5) will be responsible for leading NHSXs key programmes designed to boost productivity across the health and care system in England.

“This includes the development of new platforms that help ensure people move through different parts of the system as efficiently and effectively as possible, streamlining the bookings & referrals process and getting people the care they need when they need it. For example, using digital platforms to integrate referrals between areas such as optometry, dentistry, pharmacy and GPs that are often the first part of the healthcare system people use but which are rarely linked together effectively.

“You will also coordinate NHSXs support to local organisations investment in and delivery of core digital technologies that can help boost productivity of our most important resources, including staff rostering platforms and process automation. This will ensure digital technology plays the fullest role possible in helping the NHS meet rising levels of demand and achieve long-term sustainability.”