Lord Darzi: The NHS "does not use innovation effectively"

The NHS's record on delivering innovative technological solutions to problems has come under fire from Professor Lord Darzi, director of the Institute for Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London.

"The big gains in the coming years are likely to emerge from innovations in general purpose technologies – smart phones, computing, bio-engineering - that could see the development of new forms of care, delivered in new places by new providers," Lord Darzi wrote in an article ahead of his talk at the Health and Care Innovation Expo 2014 in Manchester on 3 March.

However, Darzi said that the NHS had not "effectively used the advances that the innovators have given us."

Darzi cricised the fact that "only a minuscule portion of healthcare budgets is spent on spreading new ideas and improving performance."

According to Darzi, the incoming chief executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens, is fond of quoting science fiction writer William Gibson: "The future is already here, just unevenly distributed."

"In the UK the NHS faces a £30bn funding gap by 2020," Darzi warned. "The answer to the crisis is not going to come from doing more of the same."

He went on to say that "health services everywhere need to change to cope with ageing populations, the increasing burden of chronic disease and slower economic growth."

A recent report also slammed the NHS' record on building trust among its IT managers, with three quarters of NHS chiefs lacking confidence in government's ability to deliver innovation.

His article ends with the damning indictment: "It simply takes too long at present for new ideas to become common practice."

Lord Darzi's warning comes just as A Microsoft-backed anti-botnet team have warned that healthcare and hospitals could face a crisis as cyber criminals begin to see their weak cyber security and high-value data as a potential goldmine.

The Health and Care Innovation Expo 2014, which is hosted by NHS England, is "the most important health and care event of the year", and is designed "to give everyone the tools and the reasons to make positive changes in health and care." It takes place on the 3-4 March in Manchester Central.