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NHS England offers top digital trusts £100m prize fund

The UK's 26 most digitally advanced NHS trusts have been invited to apply for funding to become global digital excellence centres

NHS England has launched a £100m prize fund for the country’s most digital NHS trusts that want to become centres of global digital excellence.

The trusts are being invited to put in a bid to win up to £10m each to invest in digital infrastructure and specialist training.

NHS England envisions 10-16 of the 26 trusts becoming centres of digitial excellence to “lead the way for the entire system to move faster in getting better information technology on the ground”.

Only trusts that are already at an advanced stage of using digital technologies can apply, with the 26 trusts selected by NHS England. Those that can apply for the funding include Salford Royal Hospitals NHS Trust and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The chosen centres of excellence will be partnered with “international sister organisations” to maximise benefits across the NHS.

Paul Rice, NHS England’s head of technology strategy, said the UK has a “set of acute providers” that are leading the way in digital technology.

“This benefits their clinicians, their patients and the wider community they serve,” he said. “By stepping up to become world class, they can join the most digitally advanced healthcare organisations across the globe and help deliver a sustainable and transformed NHS.”

To win one of the cash awards, trusts must show they have an electronic patient record system in place that is actually being used, prove they have the right data security measures in place and that they share health and care information across the local economy. 

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The first centres of excellence will be selected only from acute trusts, but in due course, NHS England plans to establish centres across the health and care sector. 

The winning trusts will be announced at next month’s Health and Care Expo alongside Robert Wachter’s review of how to best use technology in the NHS. 

NHS England’s chief clinical information officer, Keith McNeil, said it is clear the benefits of “investing in, and optimising use of, digital technology to improve efficiency and enhance care is more widely understood”, but the NHS is not yet realising the benefits at a large enough scale or quickly enough.   

“We need to move faster in getting clinicians real-time access to accurate information and joining up healthcare systems to improve outcomes for patients and reduce workload for doctors, nurses and other NHS staff,” said McNeil.

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