NHS England said it had opened a tender worth £16 million to support provider organisations as they seek to improve their digital maturity and get electronic patient records in place by the end of March 2026. 

NHSE said its frontline digitisation programme is working with NHS secondary care trusts providing acute specialist, community, mental health and ambulance services to help them reach a minimum level of digital capability as defined by the Digital Capabilities Framework. 

To fulfil this ambition, NHSE is seeking a partner to create an experienced, multi-skilled, rapid response intervention service, also known as a Tiger Teams service, capable of supporting EPR delivery across England.

This service will be an expansion to an existing comprehensive support offer available to providers, designed to support the national demand for resource, expertise, and information necessary to successfully rollout EPRs. 

In explanatory material included with the tender announcement, NHSE noted the “notoriously complex” nature of EPR implementation and the fact that the digital, data and technology workforce across the country is varied, with different levels of experience and skill sets. 

It added: “Often during EPR delivery, there is a requirement for either a planned, or unplanned, specific, time-bound skill set, capable of providing a set of deliverables, problem rectification or other specialist intervention for an element of the EPR Programme.

“Trusts are finding it increasingly challenging to obtain good quality, skilled short-term resources, both from the recruitment and contingent labour market.” 

The all-encompassing nature of EPR launches clearly has been a focus of the health service in recent weeks. Last week, NHSE wrote to health service leaders reminding them of their requirement to submit nationally mandated returns during the implementation of electronic patient record systems.

The letter followed a series of high-profile cases where trusts had been left unable to provide statutory reporting for extended periods following an EPR go-live. 

The deadline for bidders to apply for a pre-tender market engagement event is 29 January 2024 at noon, the announcement said. Suppliers wishing to participate in the event will receive the necessary documents on 5 February, and will have until 16 February to provide written responses.