NHS England to fund centres of global digital excellence

The most digitally advanced NHS 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 to 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.

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.

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