A small number of regional health and care collaborative communities across England have been invited to bid for national investment in shared health and care records.

The regional collaborations will compete to become one of five new Local Health and Care Record Exemplars (LHCRE), each potentially receiving up to £7.5m in national investment, which bidders will be expected to match fund.

Each regional LHCRE will build on existing local work on shared records to further develop joined up regional health and care information reference sites, focused on improving direct patient care.

NHS England confirmed to Digital Health News that the LHCRE invitations had been sent out, following an initial vetting process.

Digital Health News also understands regional initiatives that have been asked to bid from the North include: Liverpool and the North West, Manchester, Yorkshire and Humber, centred around Leeds and the North East.

From the South meanwhile, bids have been invited from locations that include: West of England, Hampshire and pan-London. Oxford and Cambridge are also expected to be included.

Dr Simon Eccles, national CCIO, said: “The safe and effective sharing of information between all the organisations caring for someone, within all the correct rules and guidance, will make care far more efficient and less frustrating. Indeed, sometimes it can be lifesaving if it speeds up diagnosis or stops the wrong treatment being given to a patient.

“A number of areas are already doing this. Through Local Health and Care Record Exemplars we want to raise the bar and build on this local work, to improve people’s direct care through technology.”

The stated aims of LHCRE start with supporting direct patient care, then extend to integrating health and care, improving care co-ordination, providing a foundation for future health analytics and population health management and also enabling patient engagement and activation.

Core requirements for successful bidders will be expected to show that they have a robust IG framework; a citizen opt-out standard; technology and data and interoperability standards; have data and cyber standards and utilise national services, particularly record locators.

Guidance materials in bidding state: “Each regional LHCRE will build on local solutions already in place to create a more joined up and holistic regional health and care information capability.  The requirement will be for all our NHS and social care organisations to contribute to this ambition.”

Like the two earlier NHS England exemplar programmes, local match funding does not necessarily mean cash but “may include clinician/practitioner time (opportunity cost) or related technology projects already (or to be) funded from alternative sources”.

As previously reported by Digital Health News, when the regional collaborations were named Local Integrated Care Record Exemplars (LICRE), the bidding process was expected to begin in January.

In December 2017 the plan had been to issue initial invitations to participate by January, with responses expected back by February and announcements on exemplars by March 2018.

Under the latest timetable, bids will have to be submitted to NHS England by 26 April with announcement of winners by mid-May.

Of the five LHCRE sites chosen, three will then receive additional investment to further progress and become a Digital Innovation Hub, the post-Care.data concept previously termed as regional data lakes by NHS England CIO Will Smart.

Back in December 2017 the aim had been to establish the first of these hubs by April 2019, a target that now seems unlikely to be achieved.