NHSX is a United Kingdom Government unit with responsibility for setting national policy and developing best practice for National Health Service (NHS) technology, digital and data, including data sharing and transparency.[1]

It was established in early 2019 by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, to bring together information technology teams from the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, and NHS Improvement. NHSX works closely with the Government Digital Service and other relevant government functions.[1] It is led by Matthew Gould.[2] The 'X' in NHSX stands for "user experience".[2] As a budget-holder, NHSX commissions projects from NHS Digital.[3]

In February 2021 it was announced that NHSX was to be merged into a new NHS England transformation directorate, which would bring together digital and operational improvement teams within NHS England and NHS Improvement. The NHSX brand would be retained.[4]

On November 22 2021, it was announced that NHSX would be merged with NHS Digital and incorporated into NHS England and the NHSX brand would be retired. [5]


One of the first initiatives announced in April 2019 was a programme to improve patient experience in the therapy areas of cancer and mental health. It would be a collaboration between technologists, clinicians and policymakers. The goal was to improve access to services for patients, to deliver the right diagnostic information to clinicians, and to provide researchers with healthcare data.

In May 2019, Hancock announced plans to upgrade all hospitals, GP practices and community care services to full fibre connectivity, which is intended to enable more video consultations and improve the speed of access to clinical information.[6]

In a speech delivered on 12 June 2019, Baroness Blackwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, identified three delivery priorities for NHSX, which are "focused on how we can make things better for patients and staff as soon as possible". These priorities are:

  • cutting the amount of time that clinicians spend inputting and accessing data in NHS systems
  • making it easier for patients to access key NHS services on a smartphone
  • ensuring that essential diagnostic information can be accessed safely and reliably, from wherever a patient may be within the NHS.

Underlying these delivery priorities, she noted that the technical priority for NHSX is the creation of a "data-driven ecosystem".[7] It was announced in January 2020 that £40 million was to be dedicated to improving login times for staff, using single sign-on technology.[8]

One of the functions of the organisation is to manage the sharing of NHS patient data with industry.[9]

In 2021 it was reported that the organisation was developing a programme aimed at accelerating the UK-wide adoption of digital records by social care providers. In September 2020 it found that 30% of social care providers were still using entirely paper-based systems and another 30% were only partially digitised. This initiative is intended to help the joining up of care across social care and the NHS.[10]

Paperless NHSEdit

In June 2019 Gould admitted that the target of a paperless NHS by 2024 would be "a stretch".[11] The target, first announced in 2013, has repeatedly been moved back from 2018, 2020, and 2023.[12]

In September 2020 Gould told the public accounts committee that all 42 sustainability and transformation partnerships should have a shared care record for patients’ direct care in place by September 2021. [13]

COVID-19 contact tracking appEdit

In March 2020, NHSX commissioned a contact tracking app to monitor the spread of COVID-19,[14] developed by the Pivotal division of American software company VMware.[15] The first public trial of the app began on the Isle of Wight on 5 May 2020.[16] The app stored anonymised data in a central database, in contrast to the decentralised Google / Apple contact tracing project. In early May, NHSX contracted for development of a second app using the Google / Apple method,[17] which was made available to the public in September of that year.[18]

Adoption FundEdit

In Autumn 2021, NHSx announced the first recipients of the Adoption Fund, set up to support innovation that:

  • has some evidence base in the NHS and can support current priorities around elective recovery
  • is compliant with NHSx's Digital Technology Assessment Criteria for Health and Social Care (DTAC), or on its way to being so
  • is not being funded elsewhere by the NHS
  • has potential for rapid, wide roll-out across the NHS.

During the first round of funding, £6.5 million was allocated to 35 applications such as gastroenterology pathways, musculoskeletal pathways, initiatives to support digital inclusion, and cardiology and cardiac surgery.[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "NHSX: new joint organisation for digital, data and technology". GOV.UK. 19 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Specialist unit will lead NHS digital revolution". Building better Healthcare. 9 April 2019. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  3. ^ Crouch, Hannah (19 February 2019). "Digital Health News confirms new NHSX unit to oversee digital transformation". Digital Health. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  4. ^ "NHSX to be merged into new NHS England transformation directorate". Health Service Journal. 15 February 2021. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  5. ^ Rapson, Jasmine (22 November 2021). "NHS Digital to merge with NHS England in major tech overhaul". Health Service Journal. Retrieved 5 December 2021.
  6. ^ "NHS hospitals and GP practices to get fibre optic internet". Building Better Healthcare. 8 May 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  7. ^ Blackwood, N., Embracing AI and technology to improve patient outcomes, CogX Festival, GOV.UK, published 12 June 2019, accessed 24 June 2019
  8. ^ "Tech chiefs pledge £40m to end staff's 'ridiculous' login problems". Health Service Journal. 4 January 2020. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  9. ^ "NHSX to oversee industry access to patient data". Health Service Journal. 16 July 2019. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  10. ^ "New programme to support UK-wide adoption of digital social care records". Homecare Insight. 21 January 2021. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  11. ^ "Paperless 2024 target a 'stretch' – NHSX CEO". Health Service Journal. 1 July 2019. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  12. ^ "The digital challenge: achieving a paperless NHS by 2020". Health Europa. 15 October 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  13. ^ "NHSX: All NHS must have shared care records in a year". Health Service Journal. 21 September 2020. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  14. ^ "NHSX working on coronavirus contact tracking app". Digital Health. 20 March 2020. Retrieved 4 March 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ Manthorpe, Roland (31 March 2020). "Coronavirus: Govt set to release 'contact tracking' app which detects nearby virus carriers". Sky News. Retrieved 8 May 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ Kelion, Leo (4 May 2020). "App stores approve UK contact-tracing app for test". BBC News. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  17. ^ Neville, Sarah; Bradshaw, Tim; Warrell, Helen (8 May 2020). "UK starts to build second contact tracing app". Financial Times. Retrieved 8 May 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Coronavirus: England and Wales' contact-tracing app gets launch date". BBC News. 11 September 2020. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  19. ^ "NHSX announces projects are to receive share of £6.5m as part of Adoption Fund". Digital Health. 27 October 2021. Retrieved 15 November 2021.

External linksEdit