In May 2013, the Secretary of State for Health and Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of NHS England, launched the £260 million Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards Technology Fund. In September, this was followed by the announcement of an additional £250m to be added to the fund – increasing its total value to over £500m.
NHS England is responsible for the delivery, administration and governance of the fund. This is in keeping with its commitment in the planning guidance, Everyone Counts, to facilitate the widespread adoption of modern, safe standards of electronic record-keeping. Management of the fund is being overseen by the cross-organisational Informatics Services Commissioning Group (ISCG), tasked with the effective commissioning of all national information and technology services in health, healthcare and social care.
The Technology Fund is available to NHS Trusts, including Foundation Trusts, to support the rapid progression from paper-based systems for patient notes and prescriptions to integrated digital care records (IDCRs) and the development of ePrescribing and eReferral systems. Further information about the fund is included in Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards: Achieving an integrated digital care record. The first awards from the fund will be announced later this year.
The fund facilitates the creation of electronic systems, linked to patient records that connect across providers. The move towards the routine use of high quality digital information at the point of care will bring a number of benefits for patients and clinicians:
Local NHS providers are able to choose the best systems for them. However, all digital patient records systems adopted by providers must enable the secure sharing of data and comply with NHS England’s requirement for modern, safe standards of record-keeping by 2014/15.
Clinicians alongside IT, procurement and management leads in NHS Trusts and suppliers to the market are invited to join the Technology Community of Practice which has been established to support the sharing of innovation, insight and peer support.