2024 Digital Transformation Priorities: NHS & Local Government

Technology is evolving rapidly, and so are the public sector’s digital transformation priorities. As the needs and expectations of the public change, NHS, local government, housing, education and policing organisations continue to respond with technical innovations. Finding unprecedented improvements in service delivery with the use of apps, eForms, robotic process automation (RPA), workflow and APIs, digital teams are responding to challenges faster than ever before. In this edition of Hot Topics, we’re taking a look at these focuses in further detail. 


The backbone of UK healthcare, the NHS faces the crucial task of leveraging digital technologies to enhance patient care, streamline its incredible breadth of services, and manage resources effectively with growing demand. According to the Digitise, Connect and Transform strategy, the NHS plans to implement “digital foundations” for the majority of its services by 2025. As outlined in the ‘Plan for Digital Social Health and Social Care’ policy paper, current priorities in achieving this remain in three core areas:  

Digitising health records 

The policy states “All integrated care systems (ICSs) and their NHS trusts are aiming to have core digital capabilities, including electronic health records (EHRs), in place by March 2025”. This particular focus stems from the recent emergence and acceleration of collaborative working across the public sector - with once-siloed organisations now working together to deliver congruent services within the communities they serve.  

Implementing EHR systems, and then integrating them with legacy infrastructure and processes, is essential in facilitating successful collaboration. To provide effective services, it’s imperative all relevant health and social care professionals can access accurate and up-to-date information securely, therefore making EHR projects a huge focus for trusts across the nation this year. Popular projects include apps and eForms directly integrated with EHRs enabling remote data capture without rekeying, automated data synchronisations and migrations across multiple locations, and even API connections between systems. 

Adopting artificial intelligence (AI) 

The policy outlines the NHS’s plans to accelerate the adoption of proven tech overall, but AI is a particularly recurring mention. “New diagnostics capacity is being developed to enable image-sharing and clinical decision support based on artificial intelligence (AI) … These technologies support testing at or close to home, streamlining of pathways, triaging of waiting lists, faster diagnoses and levelling up under-served areas.” Many trusts are turning to APIs and intelligent automation (IA) to utilise cognitive services, further streamlining time-consuming processes that don’t necessarily require human thought. 

The policy also mentions AI’s potential to provide bolstered intelligence, allowing trusts to collect and understand data essential to improving patient care. With an aspiration to “align oversight with accelerating digital transformation”, the NHS aims to leverage cognitive services and other transformation technologies to measure success and identify areas for improvement. 

Providing digital-first pathways 

The policy also outlines a focus on digital-first pathways and using technology to empower patients in taking control of their own care. Plans to drive the NHS App over the next three years aim to ‘put NHS services in people’s pockets’ – making care more accessible for patients, while simultaneously reducing administrative burdens for healthcare professionals. With plans for new apps, forms, and NHS App features already underway, it’s clear front-end digitisations remains a core strategy.  

Creating these front-end interfaces are projects in their own right, but this priority goes further than the forms and apps themselves. Integrating web services and APIs to access centralised patient information, synchronising information in relevant systems and implementing data collection as part of wider workflows are all increasingly necessary endeavours, especially with the NHS’s core mission in mind – to improve patient care.  

Local Government 

Local authorities play a pivotal role in delivering essential services and fostering community development. Acting as a gateway to a vast range of public services, councils across the country are working hard to deliver digital solutions that overcome common challenges – while improving citizen experience. Much like the NHS, local government teams are utilising transformational technologies to reach several objectives, with the “Transforming for a digital future: 2022 to 2025 roadmap for digital and data” policy paper outlining a number of priorities, including:  

Providing digital-first access to services 

Digital-first access to government services is emphasised throughout the policy. One focus is the implementation of the GOV.UK One Login, which aims to centralise government services and eradicate the need to repeatedly confirm identity. With over 2.5 million people already using the portal, the need to drive digital-first touchpoints is clear. According to the policy, “the first 23 government services have onboarded to One Login; this includes the Disclosure and Barring Service’s Basic Check and HM Land Registry’s Sign Your Mortgage Deed”, allowing for the planned retirement of GOV.UK Verify. However, plans to “scale up considerably over the next 18 months”, demand on local councils is set to follow suit.  

Alongside GOV.UK One Login, several other initiatives are underway to streamline the overall digital service experience for citizens. This includes developing user-friendly digital interfaces – such as apps and eForms - and integrating web services and APIs to provide online access to government services. As highlighted, the goal is to make government services more accessible and user-friendly, reducing administrative burdens for both citizens and government personnel. With plans to expand digital-first access across a wide range of government services, local government is committed to delivering a seamless and inclusive digital experience for all citizens, aligning with broader digital transformation objectives. 

Empowering decision-making with data 

Further initiatives are underway to establish robust data governance frameworks and promote a culture of data-driven decision-making. The development of a “prototype cross-government data catalogue and marketplace” signifies a significant step forward in facilitating seamless access to vital data for delivery and decision-making processes. The paper also highlights the implementation of a data maturity assessment for all departments, underscoring local government's commitment to leveraging data as a strategic asset. By fostering a data-centric approach, local government aims to unlock new opportunities, address challenges, and deliver impactful outcomes that benefit communities across the region. 

This priority will be driven by the adoption of apps, eForms, APIs, automations and workflows – securely collecting, moving and transforming data on a large scale to better understand the needs of residents on a local and national scale. This initiative remains a core part of local government strategy, with councils gradually eradicating paper and rekeying at every level of processing. 

Driving transformation skills  

While local government plans to transform digitally are clear and longstanding, a priority in 2024 is knowing how to get there. Local government is seeing a huge drive in digital skills development. The “overall size of the Government Digital and Data profession grew by 19% between April 2022 and April 2023, addressing critical digital skills requirements”, and the government specifically aims to reduce taxpayer money spent on outsourcing digital requirements through upskilling.  

It goes without saying that the time and resources spent on training are far outweighed by the constant contracting of third-party providers. Councils recognise this, opting instead to implement versatile transformation products that allow for wide-scale self-sufficiency. Bringing these skills in-house not only saves money, but it also brings transformation projects far closer to the users themselves – be that the public or council workers. This understanding often offers far better outcomes in terms of ROI and success.  

Make transformation simple  

The NDL Evolve Digital Transformation Platform is purpose-built for the public sector, providing low and no-code studios that harness the power of apps, eForms, automation, workflow, APIs and web services quickly and easily. To see our products in action, or to learn how we can help your team in addressing your public sector digital priorities, don’t hesitate to get in touch.