The purpose of the Local Health and Care Record Exemplar (LHCRE) programme is to build on a number of existing shared care record projects and joined another exemplar project, the Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme which aims to create centres of digital excellence. However Digital Health editor Jon Hoeksma reports that the era of exemplar could be coming to an end. 

At an NHSX organised conference in Headingly, Leeds, on 12 June, everything to do with Local Health Care Records (LHCR) was being celebrated and shared, but missing from the party was the word ‘exemplar’.

In a quick bit of revisionist history, the Local Health and Care Record Exemplar (LHCRE) programme, sister to the Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programmes for acute and mental health trusts, had been edited down to LHCR. So why has exemplar been banished?

NHSX has waxed lyrical about the key importance of LHCR to the NHS Long Term Plan and set an ambitious target to roll out coverage to all parts of the country during 2020-21.  So it’s not a lack of enthusiasm for shared regional records.

Coming just weeks after the departure of Matthew Swindells, the champion of the GDE and LHCRE, programmes and the whole exemplar concept of channelling limited investment into the already most advanced trusts, it does look like more than coincidence.

Is the dropping of ‘exemplar’ an indication of things to come under NHSX?

Sources close to the Matthew Gould, the incoming head of the NHSX body, suggest that it might be, and that he has spoken of wanting to shift priority and resources to those NHS organisations – the vast majority that have not benefitted from GDEs and Fast Followers.

Speaking at a London event on Tuesday, when asked about GDEs Gould said that the entire system should be brought up to a basic level.

He said: “For me part of the job is standards but also supporting the system, getting resources into the system to raise the standards of digitalisation.”

Digital Health also understands that some NHSX figures have behind the scenes been briefing existing GDEs to prepare funding cuts.

Nothing has been confirmed, but it certainly suggests that further rounds of GDEs and Fast Followers, which had been planned, are also looking unlikely.