Government announces NHS IT projects to receive funding injection

It will fund systems which allow hospitals, GP surgeries and out-of-hours doctors to share access to patients’ electronic records and move towards a paperless NHS by 2018.

It is hoped the funding will form part of the government’s long term solution to pressures on A&E by freeing up health professionals to care for patients and cut down on paperwork and bureaucracy.

The £260m Safer Hospitals Safer Wards Technology Fund was announced by Hunt earlier this year.

The DH is adding £240m to this existing fund and extending the deadline by a year, making the total figure for investment £500m by 2016.

All successful applications must be matched by local health and social care organisations, bringing the total to £1 billion.

The original Technology Fund was launched by the DH to provide a boost for e-prescribing and the use of electronic patient records in hospitals.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt tried to counter cynicism over the previous government’s failed IT projects. “We can’t let their failure hold patients back from seeing the benefits of the technology revolution that is transforming daily lives. It is deeply frustrating to hear stories of elderly dementia patients turning up at A&E with no one able to access their medical history, and for their sakes as well as all NHS users we need to put this right,” he said.

He continued: “Rather than impose a clunky one size fits all approach from Whitehall, this fund will empower local clinicians and health services to come together and find innovative solutions for their patients. Technology is key to helping our A&E staff meet the massive demand they face as the population increases and ages.”

It is intended facilitate online GP appointments and repeat prescriptions by March 2015, as well as give everyone who wants it online access to their GP record.

David Dalton, chief executive of Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This new funding is great news for the NHS. I’m really pleased that the government is supporting local IT solutions to local problems - this is so much better than the previous one-size-fits-all approach. Investing in electronic patient records has the power to transform patient care.”

Details on how to apply to the fund will be published later in the year.

Chief executive of the NHS Confederation Mike Farrar said: “NHS staff at all levels have told us it is crucial we think carefully about every piece of information we collect and why. We need to stop collecting information we no longer need, and make sure we extract the full value and potential from information we do collect and hold.

“Patients find it massively frustrating when they have to give their personal details or medical history multiple times over, sometimes three or four times in one hospital visit. Clinical and support staff find it just as frustrating having to ask them.

“If today’s funding is invested in the right tools and technology on wards, in clinics and in the community, clinical staff can spend less of their valuable time filling in forms and more of it giving patients the care and treatment they need.”

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