Leeds on the global map for health expertise after month of success for major city employer

Health delegations from China and Denmark have visited Leeds to learn from one of the city’s biggest public sector employers, which has this month been honoured with two international awards.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), which employs almost 1,800 staff across five buildings in the city centre, welcomed a cross-government delegation of Danish Directors of Communications.

The visitors learned how the HSCIC – the national body responsible for health and care information, data and IT systems – engages with the public, with a particular focus on the NHS Choices website.

This follows a visit from 25 high level health officials from the Chinese government, who wanted to understand how the HSCIC supports the UK health and care system. A second Chinese delegation will also learn from HSCIC staff in the coming days.

HSCIC staff have hosted the visits hot on the heels of scooping two international awards at the iCMG World Summit for technology specialists.

Its Care Identity Service (CIS), a system which securely allows access to NHS systems for 900,000 staff, won a global excellence award for enterprise and IT architecture in health care.

HSCIC director Rob Shaw was named European Chief Information Officer of the Year in recognition of the CIS project and the successful delivery of major IT systems that save the NHS tens-of-millions of pounds every year.

Speaking about the recent international visits, Isabel Hunt, HSCIC customer relations director said: “Our colleagues at the Department of Health are committed to building on Britain’s status as a world leader in clinical research and to help drive growth in the UK economy.

“Being actively involved in high-profile events such as this highlights the essential role we play in supporting researchers, policy makers, commissioners, analysts and clinicians across health and social care.”

Rob Shaw, director of Information and Assurance at HSCIC and holder of the ICMG European CIO of the Year Award, said: “It’s fantastic news that NHS IT systems have been recognised globally.

IT infrastructure is like the pipes that supply your water, or the cables that provide your electricity. Without it, we would be living and working in a very different way.

“Much of the work goes unnoticed and in many ways that’s a good thing as we want the users of those services to be able to focus on direct patient care.

“But it is particularly pleasing to get this award for CIS, which is so important for patient safety; verifying the identity of authorised professionals; for access to important patient information; and for access to the many transactions that vital to the day-to-day running of the NHS.

“Personally, I am also delighted with the European CIO of the Year award but that award is dedicated to everyone who has worked to make Spine, CIS and the Secondary Uses’ Service a success.

“These systems are crucial to the success of the NHS, and whilst we want them to run so smoothly that frontline staff take them for granted, it is still important that their success is recognised.”

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