Trusts with bids for the second round of NHS England’s Nursing Technology Fund are being informed of their success, after the Treasury gave final approval for the fund.
Several trusts told EHI News they were notified about the success or failure of their nursing tech fund bids last week.
However, the fate of the £240 million Integrated Digital Care Fund, as tech fund 2 is formally known, is far less certain.
NHS England launched the second round of the nursing tech fund last November, with applications closing a month later. Some £30 million was awarded to successful bids in the first round, with £35 million awarded this time around.
Shortly after the fund’s launch, EHI News reported that over a third of the £100 million on offer in the two rounds of the fund had been withheld by Treasury, taking the total down to £65 million.
The Department of Health said it must first “learn lessons from this initial investment” before providing further money.
An NHS England spokesperson told EHI News the organisation spent last week informing trusts of whether or not their bid was successful, after the Treasury confirmed the latest round of funding a week earlier.
The spokesperson said: “The Nursing Technology Fund has really empowered nurses, midwives and health visitors to carry out exciting and innovative work and it will continue to help provide safer, more effective and efficient care.”
However, while the second nursing tech fund has cleared approvals, trusts are still waiting for answers about the status of the second round of NHS England’s technology fund.
Sources have told EHI News the tech fund has been slashed by £90 million to shift money towards A&E pressures in the run up to the general election.
One senior IT director at an NHS trust told EHI News said the decision to cut funding for tech fund 2, while making awards for the nursing tech fund, is “barking mad”.
“Trusts have worked hard on business cases [for tech fund 2]; now, it seems there is different money just to ‘throw’ at nurses. I have worked in the NHS a long time, but this takes the biscuit.”
Announcing the opening of bidding for the second round last November, 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 the round of funding included 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 £30 million for 80 projects.
The original launch of the fund in 2013 was affected by government-level concerns about funding, with the launch postponed due to delays in getting sign-off from Treasury.
EHI News asked for a list of which trusts had received funding for projects in the latest nursing tech fund, but NHS England said it was still in the process of informing successful trusts and could not yet publish a list.