Over a third of the £100m that was due to be on offer through NHS England’s Nursing Technology Fund has been withheld, with the Department of Health suggesting a third round of funding may take place.

The DH says it must first “learn lessons from this initial investment” before providing further money.

NHS England launched the second round of the nursing tech fund earlier this week, with applications closing on 2 December.

It said it expects to hand out between £20m and £25m this financial year, and £10m-£15m in 2015-16.

However, the £35m allocated is only half of the £70m promised by NHS England for the second round, leaving a £35m gap in the £100m that was originally promised.

In a statement, a DH spokesperson told EHI: “The phased roll-out of the Nursing Technology Fund has already seen £65m invested in technology to improve care and free up more time for patients.

“Decisions about the third phase of the roll-out will be made once lessons have been learned from this initial investment, allowing the fund to build on other improvements in technology that the NHS is delivering.”

Announcing the opening of bidding for the second round, NHS England said it would have a strong focus on giving nurses access to information at the bedside and out in the community.

The second round prospectus says applications should be “aligned” with “digital capture of clinical data at the point of care” and with “mobile access to digital care records across the community."

Other priorities for this round of funding include access to digital images, IT to enable nurses to locate equipment, workforce development, and specific forms of digital assessment, including wound assessment.

The Nursing Technology Fund was launched in autumn 2011 by Prime Minister David Cameron. It was taken over by NHS England in April the following year.

The first round of bidding secured 226 applications from 139 trusts, 74 of which were successful in winning £30m for 80 projects.

The focus of the first round was very much on laptops, digital pens, and similar technologies. The second round appears to be focussed on supporting nurses in access to information and in digitising nursing tasks.

The organisations that can apply to the fund include both trusts and local authorities, charities and voluntary and social enterprises.

NHS England has not only published a prospectus for this round, but more detailed guidance on getting value for money, and obtaining references for projects.

The original launch of the fund last year was also affected by government-level concerns about funding, with the launch postponed due to delays in getting sign-off from Treasury.