The Liberal Democrats have promised to create a £250m technology fund to help finance a digital transformation of the NHS.
LibDem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (pictured) said the one-off investment would help the NHS to achieve a paperless future.
“The NHS doesn’t need warm words, it needs hard cash,” he said. “And we know exactly how much because the boss of NHS England has told us – an extra £8bn a year by 2020.”
The money for the technology fund would be raised by selling off redundant NHS assets, and would be used to digitise more doctors’ appointments and repeat prescriptions, making them available online, said Clegg.
It would also help to improve capabilities for video-style appointments, where patients can consult their GP over Skype.
Clegg said that by committing to fulfil the Five-Year Forward View laid out by NHS England director Simon Steven, the LibDems would spend more on NHS reform than the Conservatives or Labour.
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The party claims that its NHS spending plans would fund more operations than the Conservatives' proposals, and would hire more nurses and GPs than Labour's plans could achieve.
The NHS has struggled with digital reform so far, and its plans to launch a scheme allowing anonymised patient data to be used for research, dubbed care.data, has been put on hold because of concerns over clarity.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has pledged to make the NHS a paperless industry by 2018, and has announced some initiatives that make funding available only to health authorities that implement technologies such as electronic patient records.
Digital technology is widely acknowledged to be a vital tool in helping the NHS to cope with the UK's ageing and growing population.
By the end of this month, it is expected that 95% of UK adults will be able to access their GP medical records online for free.