Two southern acute trusts have been awarded £10 million in government funding for a massive digitisation project involving scanning around 300 million pages of patient records.

Known collectively as the EDM Collaborative, Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust (formerly Frimley Park Hospital and Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS foundation trusts) and Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust have chosen Kainos Evolve and Hugh Symons to deliver an electronic document management system.

They will match £10.6 million in government funding for the solution and scanning costs, with a similar amount of local investment in infrastructure and project resource costs. The project will give the trusts’ 10,000 staff simultaneous and mobile access to electronic patient records.

The collaborative went out to tender for an EDM early last year. It is one of six in the Southern Local Clinical Systems Programme, set up to support trusts that received nothing under the National Programme for IT. The 23 trusts involved in the programme have attracted £80 million in central funding, which they will match with £100 million in local investment.

Ashford and St Peter’s director of finance and information Simon Marshall said the project is a great example of collaborative working.

“The trusts had similar goals at the outset with the EDM Collaborative focused on securing early clinical and executive buy-in. We’re now embarking on one of the largest and most ambitious digitisation projects ever undertaken in the NHS. Scanning 300 million images will help to realise cumulative financial benefits of £29 million over ten years and patient care will improve,” he said.

All of the hospitals’ paper records storage facilities will revert to clinical use. Clinicians from all of the trusts were involved in selecting a supplier.

Frimley Health breast consultant Raouf Daoud got involved at an early stage of the project. 

“Mobile working for clinicians is a key part of the project to enhance patient care through real-time, bed-side access to records. By equipping more clinicians with mobile devices such as iPads, patient care will be brought into the modern age, with quicker diagnosis and higher treatment standards,” he said.

Frimley’s chief executive Andrew Morris, who also chairs the SLCS steering group, said the trusts are ready to turn their attention to the next phase. 

“We have had to go through many stages for this project and although the implementation seems like the end of the path, it is just the beginning. This is such a fundamental change, that it needs to become ingrained into our culture. This will be the next significant part of the project and path towards paperless goals.

Nigel Hutchinson, head of Evolve, described the scale and scope of the project as “a clear sign of how much the NHS is capable of when you have the right people working together in the right ways. “For us, this is a significant step from working with individual trusts up to now working with a multi-trust collaborative,” he said.