NHSX is working with providers to determine if a minimum technology spend should be mandated.

New NHS planning guidance states the organisation, along with NHS England and NHS Improvement, will be exploring what the level of funding should be in order to achieve full use of digital technology in the NHS by 2024.

“NHSX, with NHS England and NHS Improvement, will be engaging with systems and providers to determine if there is a minimum and optimal indicative benchmark level of technology revenue spend linked to digital maturity standards that are under development, what that level might be; and how they might move towards it over time,” the document stated.

The document adds that systems and providers “will want to ensure an appropriate level of investment in tech to achieve full use of modern digitised technology”.

To support trusts, providers and systems implement productivity improvements in 2020/21 NHSX will “identify the high impact productivity enhancing solutions which all relevant NHS organisations should be using”.

“Where appropriate NHSX will negotiate licence agreements to drive best value for the NHS, which NHS organisations may then fund themselves. NHSX will also put in place deployment teams to help organisations effectively implement these applications,” the document states.

NHSX, NHSE and NHSI will continue supporting local systems to more towards greater integration of specialised services under the NHS-led Provider Collaboratives from April 2020.

The Collaboratives will be responsible for managing the budget and patient pathway for specialised mental health, learning disability and autism care.

Funding for tech in 2020/21

NHSX, NHSE and NHSI will set out how technology funding should work, including:

  • funding for the digitisation of providers will be targeted through a new digital aspirant programme and will not be split equally across all organisations
  • clarity on who pays for what, in particular what technology costs providers will be expected to pay for themselves
  • other programmes to improve outcomes and relieve the frustrations for frontline staff, for example on solutions which will reduce the time that staff spend logging onto different systems
Mandating technology

The document also states NHSX will set out its approach for mandating technology, security and data standards in early 2020/21.

All systems and organisations will be expected to comply with the standards.

The organisation will work with systems to define “what good looks like”, with systems and providers expected to establish clear plans to work towards these conditions by 2024.

The expectations will be embedded in the Care Quality Commission’s inspection framework, a new direction for the independent evaluator first announced by health secretary Matt Hancock in January.

In his first keynote speech after December’s election, Hancock also announced a new Digital Aspirant programme to support NHS providers deliver core digital capabilities.

Iterating his vision for the whole of the NHS to be included in the digital revolution, he said the Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme would “keep advancing” but a new Digital Aspirant programme would be put in place to help those that aren’t part of the GDE network.

The new planning guidance revealed funding for digitisation would be targeted through the digital aspirant programme and will not be split equally across all organisations.