Green light for £260 million technology fund to make the NHS safer

Doctors and nurses are to get better information about patients so people get safer care thanks to a new £260 million NHS technology fund, announced by NHS England today.

The fund will be available to NHS providers to support the move from paper-based systems for patient notes and prescriptions to integrated electronic care records and the development of e-prescribing and e-referral systems.

This will help stop the situation where patients find themselves having to repeat their medical history over and over again – sometimes in the same hospital – because the hospital does not have access to their records.

Studies show electronic prescribing can cut prescription errors – which can be present in as many as 8% of hospital prescriptions – by up to 50%.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of NHS England said:

“This new fund will help patients get better and safer care by giving doctors access to the right information when they need it most.

“Supporting hospitals to replace outdated paper systems for notes and prescriptions will help stop patients having to repeat their medical history over and over again, often in the same hospital, because their records can’t be found or doctors don’t have access to them.

“Expanding the use of electronic prescribing by doctors and nurses in hospitals will help the NHS saves lives and save money.”

Technology is a crucial aspect of safe care. It helps protect patients by making sure details of their care are available to doctors and nurses at the click of a button. And it makes a patient’s journey through different parts of the NHS much safer, because their records can follow them electronically wherever they go.

Tim Kelsey National Director for Patients and Information within NHS England said:

“We are delighted to be working with the NHS, DH colleagues and frontline NHS staff to ensure that this fund enables the NHS to make substantial progress towards routine use of high quality data at the point of care.”

“This step change in integrating diverse information sources around the needs to the patient will support clinicians and provider organisations deliver world class patient care.”

The fund will be used for creating electronic systems, linked to patient records, that talk to each other across providers and move the NHS towards the routine use of high quality data at the point of care.

Local NHS providers will be able to choose the best systems for them as long as they can demonstrate that these will lead to better, safer care.  All electronic patient records systems adopted must enable secure sharing of data and comply with NHS England’s requirement for modern, safe standards of record-keeping by 2014/15.

Read further information on the Technology Fund.