Cabinet Portfolio: - Corporate Services and Finance
Strategic Directorate: - Finance and Customer Services
Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 15 February 2021 that proposed a refreshed Digital Strategy and that also detailed the progress made in the strategy’s implementation and ongoing development. The Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Finance, the Strategic Director – Finance and Customer Services, the Assistant Director - Customer Information and Digital and the Head of Digital Services attended the meeting to present the report.
In introducing the report, the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Finance noted that the Council’s Digital Strategy had covered the period 2016-2019, and as such was overdue a refresh and refocus.
The report stated that the Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted how integral technology had been in ensuring that Council services could be successfully manged and delivered remotely during the pandemic, as well as in ensuring that residents had been able to continue to access services through non face-to-face channels. It was noted that the refreshed Digital Strategy would underpin much of the work that was being carried out in order to deliver the Council’s Customer Access Strategy, providing the infrastructure, software and technology capabilities necessary to realise its aims and objectives, as well as exploring new and emerging technologies that would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the access channels used.
The Strategic Director – Finance and Customer Services noted that as the governance arrangements surrounding the strategy were proposed to be delegated from Cabinet to Officers, only major changes in the focus of the strategy would be brought to Cabinet for approval. The Assistant Director - Customer Information and Digital and the Head of Digital Services noted that while separate, the Digital Strategy was, and would continue to be closely aligned with the Council’s Customer Access Strategy.
The refreshed Digital Strategy was attached as an appendix to the officer’s report.
Members welcomed the refreshed Digital Strategy and its objectives. Members also noted their support for the approach of utilising existing software solutions, rather than building bespoke systems as these would be better supported technically and would also enable data to be migrated more easily to new systems when systems were updated or replaced.
Members asked how the Digital Strategy would be updated and refreshed moving forwards. The Strategic Director advised that the Digital Strategy would be updated and refreshed annually in order that it remained focused and relevant in a fast changing environment and that reports on its development could be brought to the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board they were asked for.
Members asked for further information on the Rotherham Health Record that would provide shared access for health and care professionals to patient data. The Head of Digital Services advised that the initiative would enable some patient data to be shared between health and social care practitioners to ensure a joined up and person-centred service to be delivered. The Head of Digital Services advised that the information that was shared and included in the record would be agreed between each individual and their GP. The Strategic Director assured members that access to the Health Records was strictly managed and controlled with the data stored and managed securely. The Assistant Director noted that the information held on and each Health Record was high level information and advised that if more detailed information on a patient’s case was required then this would be managed through existing channels for the sharing of information between health and social care practitioners.
Members asked what work was being carried out to support those residents who were not able to access digital services to ensure that they did not get left behind by the move to digital access for services. The Head of Digital Services advised that a Digital Inclusion Strategy was being developed that would aim to address the issue of digital exclusion.
The Chair thanked the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Finance, the Strategic Director – Finance and Customer Services, the Assistant Director - Customer Information and Digital and the Head of Digital Services for attending the meeting and answering members’ questions.
1. That Cabinet be advised that the recommendations be supported.
2. That a progress report on the implementation of the Digital Strategy be brought to the February 2022 meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board.