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Poor digital connectivity costing public sector ‘billions’

Public sector organisations are missing out on potential savings of more than £7bn thanks to inefficiencies caused by ‘poor staff connectivity’ and ‘digital technology on the move’.

According to a new study by O2 and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr), many public bodies are still facing challenges when it comes to embracing technology. This is despite the government’s ambition for a public sector that is ‘digital by default’.

The report highlights that poor access to the right tools and connectivity is leading to a lack of information on the move, especially for frontline community workers. This is resulting in an average loss of 53 hours a year per employee, equating to £2.2bn that could be reinvested in other services.

Employees like community healthcare workers could reduce the average time taken to complete follow-up tasks after home visits by as much as 30% with better connectivity, according to the research. It has been suggested that better connectivity would allow employees to file real-time reports and update patient records without having to travel back and forth to the office.

It has also been reported that employers believe that with the right tools and technology in place, employees could choose to spend another 22 days a year working from home, equating to a 90% increase in comparison to current levels, leading to a better work-life balance.

Billy D’Arcy, managing director of public sector business at O2, said: “As the UK economy starts to show signs of recovery, pressure remains on public services to look for efficiencies to cut the remaining deficit.

“The findings in the report highlight the crucial role technology has to play in supporting these organisations, both in terms of cost savings and delivery of services and in care to local communities. I believe the right investment in digital technology can have a real impact on social value, for example providing frontline staff with devices to empower them to work more flexibly, or giving doctors the technology to deliver remote diagnosis to patients that need help.”

It has been recommended that government and businesses should work closely together to make sure that public services – which people rely upon every day – are fit for the future.

PSE has asked the Cabinet Office for a response on the report’s findings and its own ‘digital by default’ ambition. However, at the time of publication no reply had been received.

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