Clinical commissioning groups now have until June to submit their 'Local Digital Roadmaps' after NHS England pushed back the submission date.
Local health economies, led by CCGs, were told last September that they need to develop roadmaps detailing how they will become paper-free at the point of care by 2020.
These were due to be submitted in April, but are now not expected until the end of June, which aligns with the submission date for the new 'Sustainability and Transformation Plans', which must be completed by health and care organisations.
Great weight has been placed on the roadmaps, with NHS England’s director of digital technology Beverley Bryant saying they would inform funding decisions for future dedicated technology funds.
However, their importance was called into question by the publication of NHS England’s planning guidance for the coming financial year.
This said it intends to shift to a “new, wider, national 'Sustainability and Transformation Fund',” built around the additional funding for the NHS that the Treasury found in the autumn spending review.
Allocations from this new fund will be based on the Sustainability and Transformation Plans, which will become the “single application and approval process for being accepted onto programmes with transformational funding for 2017-18 onwards” including technology initiatives.
NHS England told Digital Health News that it was in light of the new guidance that it decided to align the deadlines for submission of the roadmaps with that for the transformation plans.
“This reduces the burden on the service and confirms the essential link between the two requirements,” a statement said.
Local economies have already submitted information on what providers will be covered by their roadmap, with 89 ‘footprints’ defined nationwide.
Providers were also asked to complete digital maturity assessments via an online tool by 15 January to help CCGs benchmark current progress and prioritise investment
NHS England described the completion and submission rates so far as “extremely encouraging”, and said it is engaging with the small number of providers that have yet to finish to ensure that they do so, “as soon as possible”.
“At the same time the team is now concentrating on analysis of the data submitted,” the statement said.
“We are creating information packs for commissioners and providers within local digital roadmap footprints to use as an input into the planning process.
"This will help ensure that LDRs and STPs are developed from a detailed understanding as to how all partners in local health economies are effectively using digital technology to deliver the paper free at the point of care agenda and service transformation more widely.”
Detailed planning guidance on creating local digital roadmaps is still due to be released at the end of this month.