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Meet Team OneLondon – David Cunliffe

In our latest Meet Team OneLondon feature we introduce David Cunliffe who is the development lead working in North East London ICS. David is leading work to build a data service for London. Here he explains why this is important and how it will help improve health and care in the Capital (4 April 2023).

What is your role in OneLondon? 

David Cunliffe

I have been working for North East London ICB as the Software Delivery Lead in the System Development and Data Management Team for about a year. I moved to lead the team when NEL ICB was selected to host the London Data Service. We are a small team of highly skilled people who all have many years software development experience working in the NHS.

We are bringing together anonymised data from the 1000+ GP Practices across London into a single aggregated data service. This data will then be made available in a secure way to the five London ICBs for healthcare planning and other purposes in line with recommendations of Londoners.  

What is you background?

I have worked in NHS IT since leaving university 25 years ago. Before moving to NEL ICB I worked at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust for 14 years leading the Software Product Development team and was responsible for the development and operations of several important trust wide systems. When the opportunity to play a major part in integrating health data across London came up, I felt it was too good of an opportunity to miss.

I love working in the NHS and while IT isn’t a frontline NHS service, I feel that what we do and the systems we provide can have a huge positive impact on patients and frontline staff.

The response to Covid highlighted that clinicians, operation and IT working together could deliver impactful IT applications in a short timeframe. From day one of the Covid outbreak my team was working with virologists to track and alert staff to patients testing positive. When the vaccine became available we developed a patient booking and arrival system that allowed patients and residents in the local area to get their vaccine at the hospital while remaining socially distanced.

What is the London Data Service? 

Traditionally patient records are held within the organisations that see the patients. This makes it hard for doctors, nurses and other health professionals to see the patient records across organisational boundaries or analysts to see records across London. The London Care Record has taken a huge step at enabling front line staff to view a single patient record. The London Data Service aims to deliver a consistent patient record for analysts across London.

The London Data Service will bring together over 9 million patient records into a single data service in line with recommendations agreed by Londoners. Those that do not want their personal data shared can opt out of this service by letting the NHS know centrally or by letting their GP know.

One of the biggest challenges of the London Data Service will be to apply a common meaning and structure to the data.  When data comes in it will be in a structure of the system the local clinician uses so we need to translate this in to a common approach that our users are familiar with. Similarly doctors may use different words to describe a health condition so we have to be able to translate these into a consistent term. It is important that we handle this mapping and translation in a clinically safe way and aren’t changing the meaning of the data. That is why we have a Clinical Safety Office who constantly check we are implementing the data service in a safe way.  

Why is it important?

A successfully implemented London Data Services provides the underpinning technology to support the London Health Data Strategy which aims to join up health data across London to support individual care, proactive care, planning and research. Ultimately this is about providing better health outcomes for the population of London.

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