NHS England offers Trusts over £100 million funding pot to set up centres of global digital excellence

Twenty six of the most digitally advanced trusts have been invited by NHS England to apply for a £100m+ funding pot to become centres of global digital excellence and drive forward better use of technology in health.

In a bid to win up to £10m each to invest in digital infrastructure and specialist training, the 26 acute trusts, already advanced in their use of technology in hospitals, will need to demonstrate their potential to become world leaders in health informatics. Between 10-16 trusts will be selected to become centres of global digital excellence.

Once established, the centres will lead the way for the entire system to move faster in getting better information technology on the ground, delivering benefits for patients and sharing learning and resources with other local organisations through networks.

NHS England will partner the global centres of digital excellence with international sister organisations to help maximise the benefit they get from the systems and support workforce development by encouraging local IT leaders to become the next generation of Chief Clinical Information Officers.

The centres will be announced at the NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo event in September where IT expert Professor Bob Wachter will outline recommendations to galvanise use of technology in the NHS following a review of how well IT is currently working across the health service.

Professor Keith McNeil, Chief Clinical Information Officer at NHS England, said: “It is evident the benefits of investing in and optimising use of digital technology to improve efficiency and enhance care is more widely understood but we are not yet realising these benefits at scale or sufficiently quickly. We need to move faster in getting clinicians real time access to accurate information and joining up healthcare systems to improve outcomes for patients and reduce workload for doctors, nurses and other NHS staff. Our aim here is to create a national movement in which the centres of global digital excellence will be core.”

To be selected, trusts need to show they will deliver:

  • Comprehensive use of electronic patient records – making patient records available to doctors and nurses in real time for documentation of observations and assessments, granting patients online access to their medical records, and use of electronic medicines management which can halve medication errors.
  • Information sharing across the local health and care system – digital correspondence and test results for patients and online medical record and care plan sharing between health and care teams.
  • Robust data security –  a plan to respond to threats to data security with senior accountability and fully supported operating systems throughout their organisation.

Paul Rice, Head of Technology Strategy at NHS England, said: “We have a set of acute providers who are class leading in England when it comes to optimising digital technology. This benefits their clinicians, their patients and the wider community they serve. By stepping up to become world class they can join the most digitally advanced healthcare organisations across the globe and help deliver a sustainable and transformed NHS.”

The first wave of global digital excellence centres will be selected from the acute sector but it is anticipated they will soon be established in community, mental health and ambulance settings as well.

North Region

1. Airedale NHS Trust
2. Alder Hey Childrens NHS Foundation Trust
3. City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust
4. Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust
5. North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust
6. Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust
7. Salford Royal Hospitals NHS Trust
8. Stockport NHS Foundation Trust
9. The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
10. Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Midland & East Region

11. Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
12. Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
13.  Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
14.  The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust
15.  University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
16.  West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

London Region

17. Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
18. Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust
19. Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
20. Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
21. Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

South Region

22. Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust
23. Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust
24. University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
25. University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
26. Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust


  1. Richard Ayres says:

    So much for intergrated care then ? Surly a key part of the criteria should be for how well the Acute is set up to share data with local primary and community services? Population health analysis will be key if the STP structure is to deliver value and that will require shared data across the health economey?

    • Joe says:

      ‘Information sharing across the local health and care system – digital correspondence and test results for patients and online medical record and care plan sharing between health and care teams.’

      That seems to fill the criteria you described.

  2. Chris Wright says:

    In my experience, some of the most advanced healthcare organisations are Community Providers and cant understand why this existing expertise is not be used.

  3. Melissa Andison says:

    Very disapointing to see the focus here is on acute trusts only. Some financial equality across primary and community care would be much appreciated.

  4. John Edwards says:

    Please can you clarify whether you will be replicating such a process / investment in community organisations or combinations of organisations serving a given population (in line with strengthening citizens’ ownership and control of their health and also in recognition that where services are needed then more care is expected to be delivered out of hospitals). It is logical that the population focused digital tools/developments will have the biggest impact on the overall system rather than just the enhancement of the hospital systems (impactful as that will be for organisational efficiency of these high cost institutions it is unlikely to lead to the realisation of significant reduction in cost).

  5. Alan Kennedy says:

    Re NHS Englands most recent reply to Stephen and my own earlier post, maybe someone should describe how this continued focus on investing in acute ‘islands’ of technology in the immediate period helps Urgent care clinicians across the system to safely refer patients to acute alternatives. Even if it is the intention to then reach out to the rest of the community, being told that this is a later initiative ( when the money may not be there) and when A&E’s are under pressure now from increased demand seems odd. I would strongly recommend that they re read the RCA into William Meads death and assure themselves that this acute centricity remains the right approach.
    Alan Kennedy.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The lack of transparency is truly disappointing and a process that favours and therefore encourages over statement versus honesty is not destined for success

  7. Stephen Slough says:

    Nice idea, but it doesn’t support collaboration across Health and Social Care entities. In Dorset we have a single STP and LDR for all Health and Social Care Partners, tackling both the Clinical and Digital issues as one team. Can we apply as a System to improve the whole landscape rather than single elements? Making one Acute more efficient won’t necessarily improve its effectiveness if both upstream and downstream System Partners are still struggling with patient flow and access to data.

    • NHS England says:

      Dear Stephen,
      Initially, the programme is focused on making the most digitally advanced NHS organisations into Centres of Global Digital Excellence and will help accelerate digitally enabled transformation.
      It is expected that these organisations will be system leaders and share knowledge locally, regionally and nationally.
      The Centres of Global Digital Excellence work sits within a broader programme of activity for driving digital maturity across the NHS and supports the ambitions documented in STPs and LDRs.
      Kind regards,
      NHS England

  8. Sarah Seeley says:

    How have the Trusts been selected please ? can we or anyone apply if so how ? as a innovative Trust would be very kean to see the collaboration in action and work together.

    • NHS England says:

      Dear Sarah,
      The 26 acute trusts invited to complete an Expression of Interest were identified according to the following criteria:

        *High Digital Maturity self-assessment scores for ‘capability’ and ‘readiness’
        *Involvement in innovative digital healthcare initiatives
        *Representation of a range of different solution types
        *NHS Improvement consultation

      Trusts cannot apply to join as it is presently an invitation only process. However, if an acute trust feels they should have been included, they can contact:
      Organisations will have the opportunity to work with prominent and experienced national and international partners with whom they can collaborate to help deliver excellence.
      Kind regards,
      NHS England

  9. Dr Gyles Morrison says:

    Helping hospitals that are already “doing alright” is not going to help the situation. This is low risk investment so that it can be demonstrated that money has been given to improve digital health and when a subjective, marginal improvement is made… the world will suddenly become a better place.

    Most clinical systems are clunky and don’t communicate with each other. This isn’t going to be addressed with this pot of funding, nor is the fact that there is poor digital communication between ambulance services and hospitals.

  10. Kassander says:

    ‘”NHS England will partner the global centres of digital excellence with international sister organisations ..”
    Since NHS is unique, it doesn’t have any sisters. So this means that NHSE will force our centres of excellence into giving their expertize to the International Private sector organizations that NHSE chose for them. Expertize which our money has been used to develop.
    As all farmers know, Service means someone’s getting screwed – and in this case it’s the English taxpayer.

  11. Anita Nottingham says:

    How do CICs get hold of some this resource for the community setting?

    • NHS England says:

      Dear Anita,
      Acute trusts are the first provider setting. We anticipate the programme will be established in community, mental health, ambulance and other providers.
      Kind regards,
      NHS England

  12. Aruna says:

    Even through achievement of excellence in these trust is commendable, would it not be better screening among these trusts which are the most universibly compatable and cost effective IT platforms and use the funding to upgrade less IT homogenous trusts, ideally in district hospitals where rationing of resources may be one of the reasons that they do not make the above lists.

  13. Dr David Kerr says:

    Focus should be on prevention and therefore primary care! Would love to see data in which these selections were made? Talk to us here in California – the new opportunity in health will be Artificial Intelligence – NHS needs to lead rather than follow

  14. Alan Kennedy says:

    Interesting that this initiative is focussed on hospital care rather than the real time coordination of urgent and emergency care services across whole health communities. Surely there is a benefit in developing an urgent care exemplar as this is where the action is needed to assess risk and determine alternatives to hospital care. Where was the primary care/ out of hours/ ambulance, single point of access and 111 voice when this initiative was developed? Having worked in the delivery and commissioning of urgent care for many years this is deeply disappointing.Not even one mental health trust here either that I can see. What happened to ‘parity of esteem’?

  15. Martin Clarke says:

    It would appear that even NHS England thinks the universe revolves around London – the investment appears to be disproportionately focused in and around London. The regions need to be reviewed and divided more evenly with the allocations going across the regions more in proportion – the north covers an exceedingly large area, the South Region has locations north of London.

    I would be advocating spreading the digital hubs of excellence more evenly around the country to ensure that Trust nearby can engage with their partner organisations in learning, sharing and developing their own digital hubs of excellence.

  16. Will Hall says:

    This looks a bit dubious? It would be interesting (and transparent) for NHS England to outline its criteria for selection. I am surprised by some of the trusts that are not listed and some that are.

  17. Ian says:

    Noticeably, MCP sites have been left off the list of future settings as has primary care in general. With over 90% of the patient contacts happening in this environment, how can this be good ROI for whole of the NHS??

    Retail infomatics are years ahead of anything seen in the last 5 years in the NHS – surely instead of hundreds of millions of pounds being invested to develop systems from cold, the NHS should be using the technology of the retail world to boost the whole NHS digital excellence?

    Personal experience of working in a MNC was that IT system deployment could be delivered within 90 days from inception; within the NHS the experience has been >2 years….let’s use the expertise out there rather than re-inventing the wheel….