Announcements are expected in the next few days on the identity of the next two shared records reference sites selected to receive NHS England investment.

Final selection interviews took place last week, some in person and others by phone, with an announcement expected in the next few days.

An NHS England spokesperson confirmed two more sites would be announced: “Decisions/timings are being discussed at the moment”.

Three initial Local Health and Care Records Exemplars (LHCRE) pilots were selected in late May to receive £7.5m each in national funding to become a reference site for shared health and care records.

The first three selected were Greater Manchester, Wessex [Hants and Dorset] and One London have been selected. Each has to provide a matching local contribution of £7.5m.

Like previous GDE and fast follower decisions over the past two years the criteria used for the selection process run by NHS England is unlear.

All three of the initial consortia chosen included at least one existing shared records programme. In the case of Wessex, the Hampshire shared record dates back ten years. Manchester meanwhile is understood to be combining four existing CCG level records. In London, the plan is to bring together a patchwork of shared records initiatives.

After the initial three were selected in May, a total of seven consortia were left bidding for two remaining spots.

Regional initiatives in the running include: Liverpool and the North West; Yorkshire and Humber partnered up with Leeds; Bristol; Oxford; Birmingham; Buckingham and Berkshire – known as BoB; and the Great Northern Care Record in the North East.

One insider told Digital Health News: “I don’t know who’s going to win but the Liverpool and North West coast proposal seems very good and Bristol looks like a safe proposal.” Bristol and surrounding areas already has a well-established shared record programme, Connecting Care.

Achieving the ambitious objectives of the LHCRE programme, starting with integrated records, but quickly moving to population health management, real-time alerting and patient self-care, is probably only possible if a site has a well-established existing shared record programme.

Those involved in the current bidding say there has been an increasingly onerous evaluation process in recent weeks, borrowing the CQC favoured jargon of Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOE), or as one source described it “Basically a list of key short questions, but usually requiring a substantial answer and underpinning evidence”.

The senior team leading the LHCRE evaluation process is headed by Will Smart, CIO NHS England, with Inderjit Singh, a veteran of past interoperability initiatives, playing a leading role in the evaluation team.

Behind the scenes, there have been frustrations about key meetings, involving very senior staff, cancelled or rescheduled by NHS England, sometimes at short-notice and the consortia facing more searching questioning than the first round.

One sanguine source added: “some element of making it up as you go is what you’d expect with a process like this for something so new.”