There will be £35 million of central funding split equally across the seven mental health global digital exemplar (GDE) sites, NHS England has confirmed.

A spokesman said the funding is part of the £4.2 billion ‘Paperless 2020‘ pot announced by Jeremy Hunt in February 2016, and is from the National Information Board.

The national funding will be released in tranches, in response to digital plans submitted by the organisations. It will be matched with local funding from each of the seven trusts.

Plans submitted by the GDEs include the development of a variety of apps and online platforms designed to better support people experiencing mental ill health.

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, for instance, is creating an app to anticipate and respond to serious self-harm and suicide risk. The organisation is working with Stanford University to develop the software, with a prototype already built and a feasibility study soon to begin.

At Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, there are plans to create a platform which enables those with conditions including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to access evidence-based psychological therapies on their computer or mobile phone.

Other trusts are focusing on better access to records. Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust will give staff mobile access to its patient record system, enabling district nurses and other community colleagues to update information without needing to return to the office.

Meanwhile Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust plans to use its GDE funding to deliver patient access to records, as well as enabling online completion of assessments.

Keith McNeil, NHS England’s chief clinical information officer, said in a statement that he was “excited by this investment across a wide range of services and technologies and the opportunity it presents to provide both improved experience and outcomes for service users across the country”.

NHS England wants the selected trusts to become models that other trusts can follow.

Nicola Blackwood, minister for public health and innovation, said in a statement that the GDEs “will be truly world class in supporting high quality care with digital technology, providing a blueprint for excellence, not only to the NHS, but across the world”.

Tim Kendall, national clinical director for mental health at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said the “investment will help frontline staff and service users identify those opportunities for new service models enabled by digital technology that make a clear difference to peoples’ lives”.

The GDEs are NHS England’s flagship digital initiative, prioritising funding for the most digitally advanced trusts. But, as Digital Health News has previously reported, the 16 acute GDEs are still waiting on their funds despite being promised part of the money before the end of 16/17 financial year. The £5m of funding each mental health GDE has been promised is half of the money promised to each acute GDE.

The seven mental health GDEs are: 

• Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
• Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
• Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust
• Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
• Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
• South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
• Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust