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NHS England pledges over £100 million for digital innovation fund

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) welcomes the announcement by NHS England of a funding pot in excess of £100 million for the creation of global centres of digital excellence.

Twenty-six of the most digitally advanced trusts have been invited by NHS England to apply for up to £10 million each to help drive forward better use of technology in health. Between 10–16 trusts will be awarded funding.

Professor Jeremy Wyatt, RCP Health Informatics Unit (HIU) lead for new technologies, said:

Digital innovation has the potential to deliver substantial benefits to both patients and those working in health and care environments. As a sector, healthcare has been notoriously slow in its adoption of effective new technologies. This commitment from NHS England will serve as an opportunity to bring the NHS more in line with the latest digital advances.

We believe that all new designated centres of digital excellence should demonstrate expertise in building partnerships and collaborations with leading authorities in both academic arenas and the digital technology industry. By working with organisations that already have expertise in this area and drawing on their experience, the NHS will be able to access invaluable insight into how to achieve successful digital integration.

These partnerships, alongside compliance with record standards produced by the RCP and the Professional Records Standards Body, will be vital to ensuring that such systems are not only safe and scalable, but able to withstand adaption and evolution alongside industry and technological innovation and developments.

Several factors must also be given careful consideration: there must be clear assurances that this investment is used strictly to support digital innovation within healthcare; it is also vitally important to set clear direction and criteria in order to help trusts evidence themselves as exemplars of digital excellence.

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