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Spending review: Osborne gives NHS £1bn for technology boost

The NHS will get £1bn to spend on technology – including an interoperable patient record system – chancellor George Osborne has announced

The NHS will get £1bn to achieve a paperless NHS by 2020, chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne announced in his spending review today (25 November 2015).

Ahead of the spending review, the Department of Health put in bids for between £3bn and £5bn to support technology deployment in the NHS.

But Osborne promised to "fully fund" NHS England's Five Year Forward View -- which sets out a mandate to deliver a fully integrated health and social care system and an interoperable patient record, available at the point of care by the end of 2020.

"The government will invest £1bn in new technology over the next five years to deliver better connected services for patients and ensure that doctors and nurses have the information they need at their fingertips," Osborne said.

"By September 2018, 80% of clinicians in primary, urgent and emergency care will have digital access to key patient information.

"By 2020, integrated care records will give every health and care professional concerned with an individual's care the information they need to provide safe and prompt care."

Computer Weekly reported earlier in November that the NHS had put in several bids for "technology, data and digital with an estimated range of costs of £3.3bn to £5.5bn". 

NHS England's director of patients and information, Tim Kelsey, said he had had a "really important conversation with the government about the degree to which it now needs to commit in a way that has not been true, recently at least, to a significant level of capital investment in the health service for the deployment of technology, particularly locally".

Osborne increased funding for the Better Care Fund, which was set up to give local support to achieve the full integration of health and social care. Local authorities will be able to access an extra £1.5bn by 2019-2020 to support the integration work.

Effective use of data

Commenting on the spending review, Julian David, CEO of techUK, said the funding for the Five Year Forward View and social care funding was welcome, but added: "It is critical that these services are able to make much more effective use of data to deliver patient-centric care at affordable cost across health and social care.

"NHS England will only achieve the scale of efficiency savings required through the effective use of tech."

In the spending review, Osborne said the overall funding plan drawn up for the NHS -- which will see it receive an increase of £4bn in funding in 2016, frontloading the government's promise to deliver an additional £8bn a year to the NHS by 2020 -- will completely bridge the £30bn funding gap by the end of this parliament.

The remainder of the money to bridge the gap will come from £22bn of efficiency savings across the NHS, Osborne said.

He also announced £250m in funding for the 100,000 Genomes Project, which aims to introduce whole genome sequencing technology in the NHS and sequence 100,000 genomes by 2017. 

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