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Blithering pushes the envelope


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Friday, 26 May 2017

Blithering pushes the envelope

In a memo to colleagues at the Blithering STP footprint, Martin Plackard, director of digital transformation and cloud based delivery and non-executive director of Rummage Solutions, sets out his vision of a paperless Blithering.

Dear colleagues

As you may know, in addition to my existing duties as director of communications and stakeholder bandwidth maximisation I have also been persuaded to act as head of digital and social strategy for the local health economy.

This is the first in a series of regular knowledge sharing updates to kick-start our exciting programme of digitally enabled transformation.

In the zone

NHS England is pressing ahead with plans to create a number of digital erogenous zones (de.zones), which will act as exemplars and develop blueprints for IT systems in other less fortunate areas. In Blithering, where we are committed to push the envelope all the way to totally paperless, we fully expect to be named as a de.zone in the next wave of funding.

To support the development of digital excellence, academic health science networks have been asked to develop an index of place-based digital maturity using concepts pioneered in Blithering by me. 

“Place based” refers to the physical location or place in which the IT will quite literally be based. Another word for place-based is “here” but because other place-based localities will not be here, but may be “there” or “somewhere else”, we need a universal term that everyone can understand.


Blithering was among the first areas to adopt the digital maturity index, a self-assessment tool that enables a meaningful score to be assigned to an organisation’s digital capability. The index (or “form”) asks straightforward questions such as: “Do we have any computers?”, “Are they switched on?” and “Does the software actually work or is it quicker to write everything down on a piece of paper and key it in later if anyone has time?”  

In our bid for digital excellence status, we will of course need to weave a narrative that encompasses both our very mature and well aligned digital vision with a very honest appraisal of our late 1990s IT infrastructure. We understand the enormous contribution technology could make to prevention, self-care and demand management, but it’s difficult to see how we can realise any of these benefits without an urgent and substantial investment in our local IT partner, Rummage Solutions.

Next steps

It’s fantastic to see NHS SBS, the people who have done so much for payroll, talking about a new Amazon-style procurement system. Who wouldn’t want to make buying toilet rolls and surgical gloves as convenient and competitive as possible?

It’s also great to see so much optimism about the timescales for getting the system live. According to the HSJ it will all be working next summer or sooner. I’ve marked the date in my diary so I can remember to congratulate SBS when the system appears a lot earlier than expected and significantly under budget.

Look out too for Bliithering’s ebay-inspired auction site for commissioning local services. Can’t afford the buy it now price? Make us your best offer. Not enough left in your PayPal account? Pay with Blithcoin or invent your own local digital currency.  

Blithering was among the first to see the possibilities in big data. In fact, we have some of the biggest data in the NHS. By making our rich seam of local data available to the pharmaceutical industry for a modest fee, we hope to advance the cause of research and disease prevention. Sadly our small-minded local media with their trumped-up concerns about privacy and data protection legislation have never given the blith.data programme the support it deserves.

Of course it’s unrealistic to expect to go completely digital overnight. But in our ambition for a paperless Blithering, getting rid of the Chronicle and the Argus would be a very positive next step.  

Digital editor: NHS Networks


Anonymous says:
May 26, 2017 05:30 PM

This is better. You are sounding much more like an NHS manager now. Keep it up.

margaret ainger
margaret ainger says:
Jun 19, 2017 09:14 AM

This made me laugh out loud. Especially as I had a panic on Friday afternoon when I was locked out of NHS mail for no apparent reason and was trawling for an IT person still at his desk to help - thank you Carl!