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£78m for care IT - but doubts about future



Integrated Digital Care Fund and Nursing Technology Fund announce beneficiaries of grants

Hospitals and local authorities have been handed £78m to replace paper with technology in newly integrated health and care services - but there is huge doubt over future grants.

As Parliament broke up for the general election, NHS England announced that scores of health and social care providers will benefit from two separate funds.

The Integrated Digital Care Fund (£43m) will be used by NHS trusts and local authorities to put in place electronic information systems which make sharing data between care settings easier.

NHS England said the improvements would also tackle frustration among patients by ensuring they only have to "tell their story once".

Meanwhile, the Nursing Technology Fund (£35m) is being made available to NHS trusts, health charities and community health providers to spend on digital services and "release time to care".

Among the winners are:

  • Marie Curie Cancer Care - £1m for a "connected nursing" project, to allow mobile access to digital care records, digital capture of clinical data at point-of-care.
  • Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - £646,000 for the"paperless nurse observations" project, to allow nurses, midwives and care staff to capture vital early warning signs at the bedside.
  • Devon Partnership NHS Trust - £204,000 for video consultations for nursing staff, allowing remote consultations by a community mental health staff.
  • University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust - £870,000 to introduce an Electronic Patient Acuity Monitoring System (ePAMS), which will replace paper records.

Patient control

Beverley Bryant, director of technology at NHS England, said: "We are committed to a digital strategy to help transform health services through technology and put patients in control of their care.

"The latest investment in the Integrated Digital Care fund will help to digitise and integrate patient information across health and social care, enabling safer, more joined up services."

However, there was controversy earlier this year, when the Integrated Digital Care fund was suddenly slashed from £240m, with huge doubt over future awards. It was apparently raided to provide funds to help swamped accident and emergency departments that are struggling to hit targets for treating patients quickly enough.

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