The Autumn Statement under review
Ian Heath, District Manager, EMC considers the announcements from the Autumn Statement:
Yesterday’s Autumn Statement has provided a range of measures to support our public sector services, something which we would consider a hugely positive step.
Investment in Healthcare
George Osborne announced an additional £2 billion will be committed to the NHS, with £1 billion of the total ring-fenced for a GP fund targeted with joining up services through technology. We have long advocated driving better patient care through the application of technology and the data insights afforded by it. Today’s announcement is a sensible step towards this goal. However, it is not clear exactly how these changes will be funded, and this investment will only skim the surface of the overall NHS funding gap. In addition further investment in the health service will not guarantee better patient outcomes on its own. There are significant saving opportunities here, and to improve patient care through personalised treatment aided by technology, this needs to be incorporated into any healthcare strategies going forward.
Recognising the Big Data Opportunity
The Autumn Statement has also revealed the government intends to invest £113 million in a big data facility at the Hartree Centre in the North West of England, which will enable non-computer specialists to gain insights from big data in order to enhance and design products, services and manufacturing processes. This is alongside the London-based £42 million Alan Turing Centre, which will undertake new research into ways of collecting, organising and analysing big data. It’s fantastic to see such investment in big data across the UK and looking at specific industries where data supported insights can have a significant impact. Big data has the power to transform how services are delivered, particularly enabling closer consumer personalisation. Providers can also use data insights to make significant cost savings through improved processes, and it’s encouraging to see the government investing in this space. Similarly, we are pleased to see the government has recognised the role technology has had in creating efficiencies in the Criminal Justice Service and we are keen to join the discussion around how these learnings can be applied to other public services.
Positive Steps, but We’re Not There Yet
Though these are positive steps in the right direction, sadly today’s announcements are likely to only combat a minimal proportion of the problems our public sector is facing during a period of continued austerity, the inability to be agile due to locked-in technology contracts and missed opportunities for innovation. Yet the measures around investing in big data and in joining up healthcare services using technology are the type of commitments we have been calling for from government. What’s needed beyond this is a change in culture, led from the top, to put technology at the heart of future developments in order to deliver the efficiencies and innovation required.