Flagship Global Digital Exemplar hospital trusts have finally been notified that they will not receive any of the promised £100m investment this financial year.
With just days to go until the end of the NHS financial year the 16 GDE trusts have been informed that money will start to flow in 2017-18 instead.
The delayed start to the prestigious GDE programme raises doubts about whether ambitious roll-out timetables are achievable. NHS England has previously indicated that it expects all GDE hospital trusts to be paperless within just three years.
The 16 GDE trusts had been told in September to plan investment based on receiving the first slice of up to £10m each in the current 2016-17 NHS financial year, which ends on 31 March.
The prolonged silence on funding has caused growing concerns among GDE leaders, left without the funds to deliver accelerated digital roll-out plans. As a result, some have had to delay or apply the brakes on GDE plans.
Digital Health News understands that Sir David Dalton, chief executive of Salford Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, highlighted the difficulties the uncertainty on funding was creating for GDE trusts at an NHS England GDE Event last week.
Digital Health News has learned that NHS England has subsequently sent letters to GDE trusts in the last few days confirming that there will be no funding this financial year, and stating that funds will now begin in the 2017-18.
There is as yet no indication as to whether funding will be made available to the expected 20 ‘Fast Followers’ of the GDE trusts, who had been told to expect £5m each, or the yet to be announced six mental health GDEs, also promised £5m each.
NHS England’s press office said that details of NHS funding priorities, including GDE funding, will be made in announcements due on Friday.