The second wave of Digital Aspirant trusts have been exclusively announced by Matt Hancock at Digital Health Rewired 2021.

Thirty-two trusts will receive funding to boost their digital maturity, the secretary of state for health and social care revealed at during the Digital Transformation Summit on 18 March.

Seven trusts will receive up to £6 million over three years to deliver their digital ambitions and a further 25 will receive seed funding of £250,000 each to develop digital strategies.

Today’s funding announcement brings the total number of trusts on the Digital Aspirant programme to 59.

Announcing the second wave Hancock said we need to “digitise more areas of the NHS that are not yet digitised”

“To do this we will focus on all parts of the NHS, it’s very important that this is right across the NHS and social care, including mental health and community trusts which will feel the benefits of digital transformation just as much,” he said.

“We will keep driving this work across the whole of the health and care sector to make sure everyone has the digital capabilities they need, and lay down those strong foundations for the future.”

The 7 trusts receiving up to £6m are:

  • University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
  • Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust
  • East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust
  • West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust

The other 25 trusts to receive funding will be encouraged to become Digital Aspirants when their digital strategy is put in place and they can demonstrate they are ready to use technology as a key element of their transformation plans.

They are:

  • Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust
  • Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust
  • South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust
  • George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust
  • Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust
  • The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust
  • East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust
  • North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust
  • East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust
  • Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust
  • Airedale NHS Foundation Trust
  • North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust (working in collaboration with Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust)
  • University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust
  • Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • East Cheshire NHS Trust
  • University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust

Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX, said: “We want to see all parts of the NHS join the digital transformation journey, and this programme is key to supporting those organisations that need more assistance.

“Digitising frontline services is at the heart of NHSX and it is the bedrock upon which we are continuing to build the capability to deliver healthcare that is safe, efficient and fit for today’s needs.”

Sonia Patel, chief information officer at NHSX, added the ambition of the Digital Aspirant programme was to “level-up” trusts to ensure they have “critical digital foundations to operate in a modern NHS”.

“Today marks the second of what will be many waves of Digital Aspirants and I would encourage those not receiving funding today to work on their plans so they can join a future wave of the programme,” she said.

Digital health News exclusively revealed in March 2020 the trusts that were selected in the first wave of Digital Aspirants. They benefitted from £28 million between them in the first year.

One of those trusts was The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, which has taken an area-based approach to the programme. Health and care organisations in Rotherham have received £12m to focus on levelling up digital maturity across the region.

James Rawlinson, director of health informatics at the trust, recently told Digital Health News the area was taking a “join the dots” approach.

Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber Foundation Trust, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, charity Voluntary Action Rotherham, along with acute, community, hospice, primary care services are set to benefit from the funding.

Building the work undertaken for, the Rotherham shared care record, the area-wide programme seeks to further integrate with the Yorkshire and Humber Care Record.

Rawlinson took part in a panel session on reflections from board-level digital leaders during Tuesday’s (16 March) Digital Leadership Summit.

Underpinning digital transformation

Formally announced in December 2019, the Digital Aspirant programme aims to accelerate procurement, deployment and uptake of the technology that is needed to underpin digital transformation.

It aims to raise the bar across the NHS by making sure organisations have a core set of digital capabilities in place, NHSX said when the programme was announced.

Trusts selected as part of the programme are expected to be announced in waves up until 2024. Some £3-6m of capital will be provided, with local match funding, over the course of the programme, Digital Health News understands.

At the time the Digital Aspirants were said to have “no impact” on the future of the Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme but instead was designed to build on the work of GDEs through the use of blueprints and shared learning.

Digital Health Rewired 2021 is running from 15-19 March and is free for everyone from NHS, public sector, independent providers, charities and education sectors, plus start-ups less than three-years old.

You can book your place here