Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, and Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, which form the Acute Hospital Alliance, have announced plans to implement a shared electronic patient record (EPR).

A press release, published on 16 May 2024, says that the EPR will be delivered by Oracle Health, with backing from the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board (BSW ICB).

NHS England is providing investment and practical help to support the trusts through its ‘frontline digitisation programme’ in preparation for the shared EPR to go live in 2026.

The shared EPR will enable clinical staff within the region to digitally share patient information between trusts.

This is intended to ensure that staff have access to health-related information to support them to safe and effective care, as well as helping to reduce variations in care across the region and improving outcomes for patients.

Dr Roger Steadman, senior responsible officer for the shared EPR programme, said: “With patient safety at its core, a shared EPR offers many opportunities for us to be more efficient and consistent in the way that we deliver our services and transform clinical pathways across our system.

“We are currently in the early stages of this programme and excited to be working as an Acute Hospital Alliance to share one single digital solution. The fully integrated system will provide a complete, instant view of patient data within a single information space, ensuring the right information is available at the right time.

“By sharing knowledge between our three organisations, we’ll improve patient care and experience, making it easier for patients to move between hospitals and departments as their records will be visible wherever they are in the region.”

Dr Jon Westbrook, acting CEO at Great Western Hospitals, said: “This marks a milestone in our ongoing digital transformation across the trust and is part of our recognition that by working together with partners we can use our collective resources to give patients the best outcomes possible whilst improving the working lives of our staff.”

NHSE is providing £1.9 billion to NHS trusts to ensure they meet a core level of digitisation and have EPRs in place.

However a guidance letter from NHSE to trusts sent in November 2023, suggested that planned investment for frontline digitisation may be pulled from all but the least digitised trusts.

The letter said: “funding for frontline digitisation in category 0 and 1 providers will be prioritised”, indicating that the 132 group 2 trusts, which had been promised money to optimise or extend their EPRs would no longer receive investment.

Frontline digitalisation funding is exclusively for EPRs and related EPR expenditure, with £440 million allocated to 163 trusts in 2022/23, and a further £436m allocated to 150 trusts in 2023/24, NHSE told Digital Health News.

An NHSE spokesperson said: “The NHS is investing £1.9bn to ensure hospitals have the right digital foundations in place to share information so health and care staff can provide better care to patients.

“EPR procurements are large and complex investments for local organisations, and we are providing comprehensive support alongside funding for those on the journey.”