PwC with NHS England

PwC with NHS England

Change and Transformation in the Public Sector

MCA Awards Finalist 2024The drive to deliver safe and high-quality care in the health sector can no longer rely on paper-based systems. With its £2bn Frontline Digitisation programme, NHS England aims to raise 170 NHS hospitals up to a baseline level of digital capability using electronic patient records (EPR). Although such records will be an essential building block for creating a more digital NHS, the move away from paper-based systems at such a scale is huge and complex.

PwC was engaged, in leading a consortium, to establish a centre of expertise that would support the Frontline Digitisation transformation nationwide. Whereas earlier initiatives had adopted highly centralised or autonomous local approaches, the Frontline Digitisation programme would be built around distributed, but co-ordinated, activities.

The Frontline Digitisation Support Offer (FDSO) would therefore provide a centre of expertise for the whole programme, to maximise the collective knowledge, expertise and capability within the NHS. As a pool of knowledge from the NHS and beyond, the FDSO would promote good practice for implementing EPR, help the NHS to learn from its own experience and avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, and put in place a future-proof digital estate that can embrace emerging technologies. PwC worked with NHS England to design the FDSO, which brought together 12 teams from across NHS organisations. Conscious to avoid being seen as “another consulting firm taking over”, the firm made it a priority to work in partnership, harness specialists from the consortium, and listen closely to understand and support the work of NHS colleagues. Together, the centre’s 45-strong team co-created, developed and communicated models of good practice that drew on experience from the NHS and globally.

A primary aim of the centre’s approach was to shift perceptions of the programme, and position it as a transformation of how care was delivered, rather than purely a technology initiative. Central to that shift was a reimagining of how the centre engaged with NHS organisations, by ‘taking the content to the users’ and recognising the reality of their needs. Rather than simply putting guidance documents on a website, the FDSO adopted a multi-channel approach, with face-to-face Learning Labs, in-person events, and peer networks that brought together colleagues from different NHS bodies to work on common problems.

Throughout the programme, the FDSO’s design enabled it to remain agile and use Playbooks to respond quickly to urgent commissions that needed expert advice in priority areas, such as data and analytics for financial reporting, systems optimisation, or training and change management. The FDSO model is the first of its kind, and the programme’s approach genuinely surprised many of the NHS team, with over 83% of participants reporting improved readiness for delivery and a greater sense of NHS ‘togetherness’. As a result, the FDSO has equipped its 760-strong NHS community of practice to take the transformation forward together at scale.

“Impeccable. Responsive. Always on point. It is an absolute pleasure working with the PwC team.”

Senior NHS Leader

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