Digital Clinical Champions: NHS England Support for Patient Online

Dr Masood Nazir

GP, Clinical Director for NHS England Patient Online

Patient Online

Patient Online is an NHS England programme designed to support GP practices to offer and promote online services to patients, including access to records, online appointment booking and online repeat prescriptions.

Today, the majority of GP practices already offer appointment booking and ordering of repeat prescription online. During the coming year, practices will increasingly expand online services to include access to information in patients' GP records and by April 2015, we anticipate all practices will offer these services. Online services will be offered in addition to the traditional telephone and face-to-face means of interacting with a GP practice.

NHS England is supporting practices to deliver these commitments by:

  • working closely with clinical and non-clinical GP practice staff and professional organisations, such as the RCGP, to develop guidance and training materials for practices;
  • working with GP practices to make sure that staff have access to the guidance, tools and information they need;
  • putting practices in touch with those who are already successfully offering online services;
  • supporting a number of 'accelerator sites' to lead the way in demonstrating how online services may help patients and practices

and crucially

  • engaging with and supporting primary care clinicians through our team of Digital Clinical Champions (DCCs) and Implementation Leads.

Digital Clinical Champions

A recent report by the Nuffield Trust highlighted the increasing demands to deliver primary care to patients in new, innovative ways and the importance of NHS England establishing and enabling clinical leaders to develop this at a local level.

To help implement effective local clinical engagement and leadership, NHS England has recruited ten regionally based Digital Clinical Champions (DCCs) to provide local expert clinical insight, linking to clinical priorities and enabling engagement strategies at a health community level. DCCs are GPs and practice nurses from across the NHS who have experience of patient online services. They are focusing on engagement with GP practices in designated geographical areas. Dr Masood Nazir, who is a GP in Birmingham and the National Primary Care Clinical Informatics Advisor for the Medical Directorate at NHS England, is the Clinical Director for the Patient Online programme and leads the DCCs.

The DCCs have started to establish relationships with Local Medical Committees, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and area teams about focussed local promotion and support, including the development of localised digital engagement strategies over the next few months. They are helping to create a connection to general practices within the context of their local clinical priorities.

The DCCs are helping to:

  • align the use of digital technology in primary care with local clinical priorities;
  • consult with local clinical colleagues and facilitate sharing local examples of digital care innovation;
  • build a credible, clinically led local base supporting the case for change;
  • act as an enabler and clinical expert for the accelerator site programme;
  • provide a key link with local clinical informatics networks and Academic Health Science Networks;
  • define local clinical engagement programmes, as well as share and promote successful strategies and
  • promote the benefits of online services for patients e.g. how digital solutions support clinical safety, quality and equity of care and patient centred commissioning.

This approach is aimed to embed digital clinical informatics at the heart of transforming care delivery and improving patient care.

The DCCs will create conditions for enabling and supporting the adoption of online services for patients in general practice by:

  • successfully engaging with CCGs, clinicians, practice staff and patients;
  • working with general practices to make sure that staff have access to the guidance, tools and information they need;
  • putting practices in touch with those who are already successfully offering online services (click here for more information);
  • championing the utilisation of patient online services focused on each region and in partnership with the RCGP clinical network leads (looking at patient groups who may benefit most from online services);
  • championing patient engagement and consultation;
  • raising awareness and demonstrating benefits;
  • building on work completed with the RCGP, The Patient Online: The Roadmap, as well as development of further guidance and support in the toolkit;
  • listening and responding to feedback (creating a repository of good practice);
  • exploring additional online services for future adoption and supporting innovation and
  • supporting the roll out of digital services with successful regional workshops.

Dr Nazir and the DCCs will promote the establishment of local integrated clinical informatics communities. It is envisaged that local communities establish informatics boards to ensure that clinically-led informatics and digital solutions fit with local health needs.

The DCCs and the implementation team will support general practice teams to become confident to offer patient online digital services to enhance the quality of patient care especially for patients who general practice teams know will benefit the most from patient online services.


For further information, and to get in contact with your local DCC, please click here or email us at


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