The second rounds of the NHS' two technology funds are due to be “promoted and launched” over the next two months and will focus on integration.
The first round of funding has been approved and awarded for both the 'Safer Hospitals Safer Wards: Technology Fund' (known as the ‘tech fund ’) and the Nursing Technology Fund, and second rounds will soon follow.
NHS England director of strategic systems and technology, Beverley Bryant, told EHI in December that she hoped to announce the criteria for ‘tech fund 2’ before Christmas. Guidance on the fund was then going to be released at the end of this month, but appears to have been delayed again.
Speaking at the HC2014 conference in Manchester last week, NHS England’s head of technology strategy, Paul Rice, said: “Both the tech fund and the nursing tech fund will be promoted and launched in the next couple of months.”
The first round of the Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards: Technology Fund was approved by Treasury in two tranches, of which the second was only given the go-ahead earlier this month.
Of the £260m in funding available, around £220m was awarded to more than 200 projects, of which £90m had to be spent by this financial year or returned to Treasury.
Rice confirmed that around £50m will be invested in this financial year and the shortfall will be made up by more money being made available in the 2014-15 financial year and beyond.
The second round of the tech fund will have a new name, which will focus heavily on integration and open source commitments.
“In terms of the emphasis and where the money will be attracted to in the next round, the strategic point of integration and commissioners’ support for this will be important, we want to make sure commissioners are on board,” Rice said.
“The relationship and integration with local authorities and health and well-being boards will be more significant than in the first round. There’s a strategic commitment to open source. We plan to radicalise the market in terms of what systems are available to support this agenda, and the NHS Number will be critical in terms of having a single identifier, and pushing open APIs in terms of portability and availability of information.”
He said that NHS England has done a series of 'lessons learned sessions' before the second round. It will also help trusts that were not successful in the first round with how to demonstrate what a good benefits case looks like.
The first round of the Nursing Technology Fund saw 85 projects awarded a total of £30m for mobile working, vital signs monitoring and digital pens.
Rice said that the first round has been “pretty restrictive” in terms of what kind of technology trusts could buy, but that the £70m second round would be more open.
“Policy-wise we’re trying to orientate the conversation going forward around capability rather than the actual nature of the technology itself,” he said.