NHS trusts in England are at varying stages of readiness for the £240m second round of NHS England’s technology fund, with the deadline for applications closing in less than a week.
Applications for tech fund 2, officially re-named the 'Integrated Digital Care Technology Fund', close on 14 July.
Trusts were given exactly two months to get their bids in for the fund, after the first round of the tech fund was criticised for running against very tight deadlines.
Unlike the previous round, trusts can only submit one bid, though they can also submit a joint bid with social care or local authority organisations.
Christine Walters is the IM&T director at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which did well in tech fund 1 with a successful £4.2m bid for electronic document management and a £625,000 award for an e-prescribing project.
She told EHI her trust is putting in a bid for a clinical portal to make it easier for clinical staff to work with its best of breed systems strategy.
“One complaint we hear is that there are too many systems and they all look different, so this will present a single record to clinical staff with the same look and feel.”
Walters said the trust is also putting in a joint bid with social care and local authority organisations in north-east Manchester, based on bringing a minimum set of real-time data from the organisations into the portal.
She said the application process is more straightforward than in the first round, and the trust has had a better idea of what it is expected to provide.
“There’s been some very clear guidance and some very comprehensive documentation… it’s much more structured this time,” said Walters.
Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust said it is planning to make a bid to support its plans to implement an electronic document management system and clinical portal to use a range of applications with a single log-in.
Mark Golding, the trust’s project lead, said: “Both the portal and document management system will work as part of a paper-light environment that will provide a faster and simpler system for staff and also improve the quality of patient care.”
Golding said the project is in its early stages, and the trust is currently finalising its application for the fund.
Bill Aylward, the director of the OpenEyes project at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said the trust is finalising its plans and is likely to make a “definitive decision” later in the week.
Several trusts told EHI they will not be placing bids for the second round, instead putting their energy into the implementation of successful first round bids or planning for the second round of the Nursing Technology Fund; the separate initiative launched by the Prime Minister for tablets and similar technologies.
Peter Gooch, the associate director of ICT at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, told EHI the trust will not be making a bid this year and is instead focussing on the second stage of the nurse tech fund.
“Last year we put in a bid and I was extremely underwhelmed by the process, assessments and lack of feedback,” Gooch said.
Dr Johan Waktare, the EPR clinical lead at Liverpool Heart and Chest NHS Foundation Trust, told EHI the trust is not making a bid.
It will, instead, focus on its closed loop medicines management and community EPR projects funded in the first round, as well as bidding for the second round of the nursing fund.
Dr Waktare said his overall experience with the tech fund has been positive, although he has some concerns about the value for money formula used to assess bids and the quality of some applications.
“I think perhaps a better understanding of what could add non-financial value to the care of patients would have been helpful, rather than people jumping on the hamster wheel to get more money.
“But overall, I don’t want to take away from the fact that this is really important and valuable.”
A spokeswoman for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said the trust has decided not to make a second round bid, as it is focussing on delivering its paediatric electronic patient record which was partly funded by £3.3m the first round.
The spokeswoman said the trust’s focus for the next year is on e-prescribing and other parts of the EPR which are funded by the tech fund.