Digital staff passports will be made available to “substantially more staff” under NHS England and Improvement plans to ramp up the programme.

The digital passports are designed to allow NHS staff to work across different organisations without added red tape.

Trails of the passports began in March last year to make it easier for staff to be redeployed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A prior information notice published on May 6, 2021, revealed NHS England and Improvement are looking to expand the programme “as soon as practicable”.

“The ambition now, as set out in the Secretary of State’s ‘Busting Bureaucracy’ and supported by the NHS Chief People Officer and the CEO of NHSX is to make digital staff passports available to substantially more staff servicing different types of staff movements as soon as practicable,” it states.

“To support this ambition, NHS England and NHS Improvement and NHSX want to better understand what the providers of digital passport technologies are able to offer and establish a new service line for digital staff passport providers under the Health System Support Framework to ensure a broad and open market is created.”

The new service under the Health System Support Framework is valued at £1.25million.

The contract notice is expected to be published on May 21, with the first tenders expected to design and develop an alpha version of digital staff passports, as well as extending the use of the Covid digital staff passport which allowed staff to move between organisations during the pandemic.

Digital staff passports formed part of the Enabling Staff Movement Toolkit launched in July 2019, but the initiative was fast-tracked to make it easier for the NHS to allocate staff to pressure points during the pandemic.

The temporary passports, which are stored on staff members’ smartphones, contain a “minimum set of verified credentials” that allow them to be deployed to different NHS sites “quickly and without unnecessary bureaucracy”.

Following the use of digital staff passports during the Covid-19 crisis, NHS England and Improvement plan to launch an alpha version to be used permanently across the health system.

Digital passport systems were already in use at some NHS trusts prior to the pandemic. Kings Health Partners has had a system in place since 2010 which allows staff from King’s College London; King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust; and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust to move between member organisations.

The wider programme by NHS England and Improvement aims to expand this to all NHS organisations to make it easier for staff to rotate between trusts while reducing onboarding and HR processes.