The £100m Nursing Technology Fund is due to open this week and an initial round of funding will be awarded before Christmas, EHI understands.
The fund was first announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in October 2012.
EHI understands the bidding process is likely to open on Wednesday. The first round of the fund will be worth £30m and trusts will have around a month to apply.
Bids will be awarded before Christmas this year and trusts will have to deploy the systems by the end of March 2014.
A second round of funding for the 2014/2015 financial year will be for the remaining £70m.
The fund is open to all NHS trusts and foundation trusts that want to improve nursing technology.
NHS England told EHI in a statement last month that the fund should be used for technologies that help reduce administration and let nurses spend more time with patients.
The technology could include digital pens or mobile technology such as tablets or notebooks, “with which staff are able to work more safely and efficiently in community settings, such as patients’ homes.”
It could also include nursing observation systems and vital signs monitoring.
News of the fund has been scarce since it was announced more than a year ago, which NHS England attributes to the organisational changes the NHS has gone through.
EHI has spoken with several trusts, none of which has received any information on the fund.
However, EHI understands that NHS England anticipates that a lot of the bids will be around expanding already existing projects.
Despite the apparent lack of information so far, both trusts and suppliers are excited about the fund.
Helen Ainsbury, IT director at Central Manchester NHS Foundation Trust told EHI she had yet to receive any information on the fund, but that the trust would take advantage of it.
“Although we are aware of the imminent opening of these bids to my knowledge we have received no more detail yet,” she said.
“Our aim for the nursing tech fund is to progress more quickly some of our plans with regard the paperless ward, the mobile community midwife, health visitor or district nurse.”
The Royal College of Nursing’s eHealth Forum also told EHI it welcomes the fund.
“We know that making greater use of technology in health settings can make a positive difference to the safety of patients, to their experience of health care, and to the working lives of nursing staff,” said a spokesperson.
Jim Chase, managing director of Advanced Health & Care, told EHI that the fund will have a clear focus on mobile technology from the government.
“The launch of the £100m Nursing Technology Fund is a clear indication that the government is now placing much more importance on the use of technology within nursing than it ever has before,” he said.
“It also recognises the fact that the introduction of mobile technology within community based nursing teams can have a big impact on improvements in care.”
Managing director of Anoto, Robert Bakewell, reinforced this opinion: “the Nursing Technology Fund has been designed to put responsibility for workflow control and IT device choice back in the hands of actual users – nurses and midwives – helping them to provide a more comprehensive understanding of patient’s individual care needs and to free up more time to care”..
The government also recently announced it will add a second round and another £240m to the existing £260m Safer Hospitals Safer Wards Technology Fund.
EHI understands that some trusts were told during their application process for Safer Hospitals fund that their bids would be better suited for the Nursing Technology Fund.