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Open letter from Helen Thomas, Interim CEO Digital Health & Care Wales

On the 1st April the NHS Wales Informatics Service becomes Digital Health and Care Wales, a new Special Health Authority.

This is a landmark change, which I honestly believe comes at the right time. During recent months we have seen how technology is absolutely essential to support the NHS Wales response to COVID-19. In fact, the pandemic has highlighted the wider role technology can play in supporting and improving our health and care services. It has changed attitudes, accelerated uptake and spurred on new digital solutions.

Virtual consultations, remote access to the single health record and advanced data services are helping all of us get through a difficult situation. So, during this crisis, it has been hugely rewarding to receive positive feedback from our users and stakeholders.

As we know health technology is a core service for health and care in Wales. And the IT systems and services we have developed and delivered over the past decade remain critical for the day to day running of health and care in Wales.

Moving forward we will continue to develop and enhance our core development and operational services, with the aim to support greater mobilisation and accessibility to data and information for health professionals and patients.

It is my sincere intention that we continue this journey together, working with our partners in hospitals, health boards, primary care and industry to transform the way we deliver digital services.

At the start of this big change, I want to thank NWIS staff and our partners for their contribution and input so far. We are in a great position to move forward, as one of the few nations with an integrated national digital record to support patient care, available across all care settings. But there is so much more to do and we will need to ensure we are able, with our partners, to rise to this challenge.

The creation of Digital Health and Care Wales is significant because it signals a change in emphasis and places a strong focus on the national tech and data services we need in today's world. Technology and data that is centered on integration and AI and takes the best from consumer driven digital services.

Technology in health and care is evolving, and that's a fact.

As the interim CEO for Digital Health and Care Wales, there couldn't be a better time to not just be involved in this sector but to lead the new national digital health organisation as it positions itself as an integral part of the NHS Wales family. I am genuinely excited by the opportunities that lie ahead not just for DHCW but for what DHCW will be able to deliver for the NHS and ultimately the patients of Wales. I look forward to working with you and supporting our interim Chair Bob Hudson and the new Board over the next few months.

First published: 26/02/2021