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CCGs collaborate to submit digital plans to NHS England

A large number of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have decided to work together on their digital roadmaps for a paper-free NHS

NHS England has received 90 plans from clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) setting out who they are working with to deliver a paper-free NHS by 2020.

In October 2015, CCGs – which have been put in charge of making sure their local health practices are working to achieve the paper-free target – had to submit details about the organisations in their area they will collaborate with to go digital.

The footprints for their plans can either cover a single CCG area or multiple CCG areas, with the decision of whether or not to collaborate being the CCGs’ choice. As well as including local NHS organisations, CCGs also had to liaise with local authority partners to ensure social care was involved.

Speaking at the National Information Board’s leadership summit yesterday, NHS England’s head of technology strategy said the centre had received 90 footprints, 52 from single CCGs and 38 from multiple CCGs that have grouped together.

“Interestingly, many of those footprints reflect the information-sharing and interoperability agenda, and are about CCGs and their partners coming together on a wider basis,” he said.

The largest group is found in Manchester, where 12 CCGs have come together to work on the digital roadmaps, reflecting the Greater Manchester Devolution, a groundbreaking programme which includes the devolution of a £6bn health and social care budget for the region.

The programme includes joining up primary care, secondary care, the city council and providers of social care and mental health care to deliver integrated health and social care.

Investment needed

In November 2015, chancellor George Osborne announced in his spending review that the NHS would get £1bn to support the paper-free by 2020 agenda, set out in the Personalised Health and Care 2020 report published in 2014.

Although this is significantly less than the £3bn- £5.5bn the Department of Health had bid for ahead of the spending review, NHS England is very happy with the £1bn it got, and director of patients and information Tim Kelsey said it showed significant commitment from the government.

Read more about CCGs and digital roadmaps

Exactly how the money will be spent is unclear, but in an interview with Computer Weekly in November 2015, NHS England’s director of digital technology Beverley Bryant said it was looking at doing “some form of tech fund” and recognised that investment is critical to support the paperless agenda.

Formal roadmaps, or plans on how CCGs will actually achieve paperless at the point of care, will be submitted in April 2016. Rice said any investment they receive needs to be optimised.

He said it was important to ensure that “the historic investment is optimised in terms of effectively sweating the assets we already have, but also that any new investment has a clear relationship to benefits as far as the professionals and the patients are concerned”.

NHS England will invest in some “transformational support centres”, to ensure that the health and care economies exploit the capabilities they have, Rice said.

The centres will be based around the work done in the US where regional extension centres have been set up around the country to help health and care organisations with selecting and implementing electronic patient record systems.

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