Unified Tech Fund prospectus

First published 31 August 2021

Updated 14 September 2021 – see updates.


Executive summary

You've told us that funding for technology is too complicated. We've not told you early enough how much funding is available or what it's available for, and we've often released funds too late in the year. Our proposal in Who Pays for What sets out our plan to address this and more. The Unified Tech Fund is the first step for 2021 to 2022 and will set out clearly the funding available and have a single approach to bidding for it. Beyond this, we will be making technology funding available to Integrated Care Systems (ICS) directly as they become statutory bodies.

While strategy for digital transformation has remained consistent, a long history of attempts to fund the digitisation of the health and care system has resulted in a patchwork of funding strategies and opportunities. These can be confusing and difficult for you to engage with. For example, the Digital Transformation Portfolio previously evolved into the Tech Transformation Portfolio with the 2019 publication of the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP).

To help fix this, we have brought together several national technology funds. This amounts to £680 million available to NHS organisations throughout the financial year 2021 to 2022. The breakdown of this funding for the financial year is as follows.

Summary of funds
Fund Closing date Available funding
Frontline digitisation 15 October 2021 £308 million
Shared care records 22 March 2022 £50 million
Cyber security infrastructure fund 23 December 2021 £27 million
Digital productivity 30 November 2021 £4 million
Digital pharmacy, optometry, dental, ambulance and community (PODAC) 7 October 2021 £6 million
Diagnostics 23 December 2021 £235 million
Digital maternity Not currently open £50 million
Digital child health Not currently open TBC

For the Unified Tech Fund, we have set out what the funding is intended to achieve, how the funding process will work and what you need to do to bid. All of this intends to provide clarity to those who are applying. The information here is for financial year 2021 to 2022. We want to ensure this is updated as new funding becomes available. We will post it here and let you know it's been updated. We will also refine the process as we go, and therefore welcome your feedback on what is working and what is not.

If you have any questions on the Unified Tech Fund or would like to discuss the process please email utf@nhsx.nhs.uk.

Funding aims

This prospectus outlines the scope and criteria for application to the various national funds that seek to:

  • level up the digital maturity of NHS trusts and consortia
  • ensure a basic shared care record is in place within all ICSs
  • level up cyber security capabilities, address key infrastructure and other specific weaknesses, with continued provision of back-up reviews
  • scale what we know works to improve productivity throughout health and care
  • support the digitisation of the pharmacy, optometry, dentistry, ambulance and community services sectors, and improve interoperability
  • increase system capacity and resilience of diagnostic services. Improve safety and experience for patients and staff through digital capability and reduce manual processes
  • improve outcomes for women and their children and also to improve safety of clinical care

Application process and requirements of applicants

In each section you will find an explanation of each area and the eligibility criteria. We are taking applications through our online application form and we will review applications on a monthly basis.

Applicants may submit for more than one fund. Applicants will not be awarded from multiple funds for the same purpose.

To release the funds we need approval of the application and central government approval of the programme. We will let you know when you can expect to hear funding decisions.

Applications will open on 31 August 2021. However, two funds, digital maternity and digital child health are not currently taking applications. You can select to register your interest for these funds for the time being through the normal application route, and you will be notified when they become available.

The Unified Tech Fund will no longer be taking applications after 22 March 2022. However, prior to submission, applicants must be aware that some funds close before this date. These closing dates are set out within each fund page.

As well as aligning to the eligibility criteria of the funds we want to make sure that the outcomes and benefits described in your cases are realistic and delivered.

Where matched funding is required we would expect to see a clear plan for this and be able to demonstrate after this has taken place. To ensure teams are not doing a business case until they know they have been successful, where appropriate we will ask applicants to do this once they know the outcome. This will be through their existing routes.

Introduction

The Unified Tech Fund

Each fund has a unique focus system and will be best placed to decide, based on their needs, where to apply. These differences are set out in each fund page and applicants need to be clear they can meet the objectives.

For all applications submitted we will want to ensure that:

  • applicants clearly demonstrate that they have worked across their ICS Organisations to ensure that investment proposals align to their local system needs
  • requests are reviewed and approved by regional and ICS teams
  • bids focus on levelling up and innovation within the ICS

This prospectus outlines the money available, scope, and criteria for application to the following areas of funding.

  • Frontline digitisation
  • Shared care records
  • Cyber security infrastructure
  • Digital productivity
  • Pharmacy, optometry, dentistry, ambulance, community (PODAC)
  • Diagnostics
  • Digital maternity
  • Digital child health

Funding that has not been included in the Unified Tech Fund is described in the out of scope section.

Application process

The Unified Tech Fund will be open to receive applications from the 31 August 2021.

Applications must be submitted through our online application form. Each section gives you the application criteria for each fund and a maximum application value, if applicable. Applicants may apply for multiple funds.

Bids will need to have ICS, regional support, local approval, a single point of contact and demonstrate alignment to the forthcoming ICS Digital and Data Transformation Plan. Bidding consortia will need to identify a lead organisation for whom there is a single point of contact.

Funding will be released at different points in the year for each fund, applicants will be kept informed of the timeline for each fund they have applied to throughout the process.

Applicants will be provided with a digital mechanism for tracking the progress of their application. On approval, applicants will be made aware of their allocation and this will be accompanied by the appropriate agreement, for example a memorandum of understanding to allow the funding to be administered. Some programmes, such as frontline digitisation, may ask for more detailed requirements.

Approval of investments

Bids would need to be consistent with the Digital Transformation Plan for Health and Care and the What Good Looks Like guidance.

Bids will be reviewed by a multidisciplinary team in NHSX, who will assess applicants against eligibility criteria and where necessary work with applicants; through their nominated point of contact, to clarify and refine their submissions.

Finalised bids which meet the criteria will be submitted to the Unified Tech Fund monthly review board which will decide on the allocation of funding.

Once indicative funding decisions have been made, applicants will be informed, and applicants will submit the business case through their existing routes.

Investment cases totalling below £15 million will be approved through local investment approval processes.

Investment cases with whole life costs over £15 million will be endorsed locally then submitted through the central business case approvals process led by DHSC and NHSEI. For more detailed information, please see the current NHSEI guidance.

Governance and assurance

Bids for frontline digitisation and shared care records funds will need to comply with the governance and assurance processes that can be found in their sections of this page.

For all other funds in the Unified Tech Fund, assurance will be proportionate to the delivery risk and the investment value. Delivery will be managed against an agreed plan. Assurance processes will include:

  • quarterly reporting
  • active risk management
  • an obligation on applicants to track benefits and share learning
  • assurance review before funding is released against delivery milestones
  • intervention when necessary. In some cases it may be necessary to stop investment until remedial action is taken and the chances of success are once more proved to be good

Out of scope

There are a number of digital funds available to the system that are administered outside the remit of the Unified Tech Fund. All of the following funds are administered by NHSX, with the exception of the new hospital programme, which is administered by NHSEI.

Regional scale programme

£10.5 million is available within this programme, with a weighted allocation by region for 6 months. Full year funding will be allocated based on assessment of Q1 performance.

Please note that this funding has already been agreed and regions have begun working on plans.

Scope for 2021 to 2022 is:

  • care homes
  • long-term conditions management or virtual wards
  • annual physical health assessment in mental health
  • locally defined priority

If you would like to know more information about the regional scale programme please email innovation.collaborative@nhsx.nhs.uk.

Digital pathway transformations

This includes pathways that are being overseen through the NHSEI pathway governance route, such as:

  • ophthalmology
  • dermatology
  • long term conditions including hypertension, and gastroenterology
  • cancer
  • musculoskeletal
  • high volume surgical pathways

The supporting architecture for pathways will include Electronic Referral System (ERS) and image sharing capabilities.

Funding for image sharing capability can be accessed through the diagnostics fund.

If you would like to know more information about the digital pathway transformations programme, please email dnhsx@nhsx.nhs.uk.

The digital health partnership award: supporting people at home

This award will look for products and services that support people with long-term conditions to remotely monitor their health through connected home technologies. £4 million of funding will be available for:

  • optimisation of care pathways
  • patient-centred data exchange
  • self-management and prevention advice
  • system efficiencies

If you would like to know more information about the digital health partnership award: supporting people at home, please email partnershipsaward@nhsx.nhs.uk.

The new hospital programme (NHP)

This programme will ensure up to 48 brand new hospitals have good hardware, excellent connectivity, integrated systems, and be showcases for digital innovation.

The majority of funding for this programme is outside of the scope of the Unified Tech Fund. However, there may be opportunities for some frontline digitisation funding for participating organisations. Eligible NHP organisations should apply through the Unified Tech Fund.

If you would like to know more information about the new hospital programme, please email nhp@nhsx.nhs.uk.

Frontline digitisation: Applicant information

Closing date

15 October 2021.

Total funding for 2021 to 2022 available to the system

Capital funding of £263 million and revenue funding of £45 million.

Total available per applicant

Up to £6 million of combined capital and revenue funding is available to an individual trust for core digital capabilities across multiple years. In exceptional cases up to a further £6 million is available for enabling infrastructure across multiple years. Seed funding of up to £250,000 per organisation is available to help with development of business cases or digital strategy.

Eligible applicants

  • Individual secondary care acute, specialist, mental health, community and ambulance trusts
  • Trust consortia
  • Individual ICS hosted by a trust
  • Collaboratives of multiple ICSs
  • Community of interest company or social enterprise providing NHS community care services

This excludes organisations who already have a signed letter of agreement for multi-year funding for frontline digitisation, unless they believe they are eligible for further funding.

Context and purpose

Levels of digitisation across the NHS are mixed. To maximise the benefits of digital transformation and the power of the NHS’s data we will need the NHS to have the right digital enablers. We need to level up the digital maturity of all providers so that they have adequate enabling hardware, robust connectivity, electronic patient record systems and other core capabilities. Previous programmes have made progress towards this aim.

The Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme supported trusts that were best able to prove the benefits of digital transformation. These GDE trusts then supported Fast Follower trusts by spreading best practice and innovation. Following this, the Health System Led Investment programme has provided around £400 million to spend on local priorities in a system-wide approach, with the aim of narrowing the gap between the most and least digitally mature trusts. Most recently the Digital Aspirants programme from financial year 2020 to 2021 targeted the large bulk of trusts to level up digital maturity and support levelling up across the system.

Through the frontline digitisation fund, we aim to continue levelling up secondary care providers so that all organisations meet the ensure smart foundations success measure described in the What Good Looks Like (WGLL) guidance.

Scope of fund

What's in scope?

Bids can come from ICSs and individual providers and we encourage collaborative procurements. We will invest in:

  • digital transformation to ensure ICSs (particularly those starting from a low base) have the appropriate capability
  • enabling digital infrastructure, such as new networks, security, wifi, cloud data storage and end user devices
  • core digital capabilities, such as
    • patient administration systems
    • records, assessments and plans
    • transfers of care
    • orders and results management
    • medicines management and optimisation
    • decision support
    • remote care
    • asset and resource optimisation
    • theatres

Applications for capabilities that directly support recovery of elective activity post-pandemic are encouraged.

Applications for frontline digitisation will be open throughout September and October. Subject to demand, there may be a second phase of applications later in the financial year.

Where we make multi year funding commitments we will prioritise these for future year spending. This funding is not guaranteed as the amount of funding available is determined by the outcome of Her Majesty's Treasury spending review 2021 to 2022. As funding allocations move to ICSs in future years the programme will manage this transition with providers and ICSs.

What's not in scope?

If your organisation has already received significant funding, you will be a lower priority for further funding. Once a trust has reached a core level of digitisation, as defined by WGLL, they will no longer be eligible to apply for frontline digitisation funding. This is because there is the expectation that organisations will be financially self-sufficient following the investment provided.

Eligibility for participation

We will invest in organisations that can demonstrate their need for funding to enable levelling up of digital maturity to meet the baseline described in the WGLL guidance. There is a need for applications to demonstrate full support from NHS trust, ICS, and regional leadership teams and align with ICS and national priorities. Trusts must also have well defined digital strategies and a coherent delivery plan with clinical support.

Trusts will be expected to follow the appropriate business case approvals process. For example, investments over £15 million will require a strategic review at strategic outline case (SOC) stage, outline business case (OBC) and full business case (FBC).

Applications can be made in advance of the business case being completed. However, to receive funding trusts must have an approved FBC and be able to start on their transformation journey immediately. For trusts unable to develop an approved business case, seed funding is available to support organisations.

Previous funding received under provider digitisation and other initiatives will be considered when assessing requests for funding. However, trusts that have had significant funding will be a lower priority, such as acute GDEs.

Applicants must demonstrate a plan to match funds. This is to ensure sustainability of future tech funding, as well as local ownership and accountability for project success. Matched funding principles are applied over the whole life of a programme. This can be tailored to suit individual circumstances, for example, funding may include a different mix of revenue and capital in different years.

To ensure no providers are left behind by the barrier of matched funding, consideration will be given based on individual circumstances. This is because we understand that some providers can be financially challenged but are still capable of delivering a highly successful programme.

For you to have a successful bid, it is important to demonstrate digital leadership at board level, clinical support, financial self-sufficiency and a willingness to deliver change.

We expect that providers will adhere to procurement regulations and compete fairly and transparently in the open market using the preferred frameworks of frontline digitisation such as Clinical and Digital Information Systems Framework and Health Systems Support Framework.

Your implementation plans would need to consider the cyber implication for any new development. In particular, this may include data protection risks and opportunities arising from technology. As a priority, you will also need to consider how personal and business data is collected, stored and transmitted, including appropriate controls to manage risk in line with General Data Protection Regulation.

If your bid is successful, we expect you to actively support the learning ecosystem, working collaboratively with the frontline digitisation programme and other providers to share lessons, capture learning in a structured manner. For example, this would include: blueprinting, being open and transparent about risks and opportunities, supporting proactive communications and celebrating impacts.

Prioritisation of funding

Following evidence of approved business case our investment will be prioritised towards:

  • continuation of existing multi-year investment and supported schemes
  • levelling up the digital capability of the least mature ICS’s
  • in-scope digital capabilities that support the frontline response to the backlog in elective procedures
  • platforms providing aggregated core clinical and operational capabilities, such as enterprise EPRs
  • individual applications that support an integrated suite of digital capabilities such as PAS, orders, communications and results, medication management and administration and resource optimisation
  • enabling digital infrastructure such as networks, security, wifi, data storage, end user devices
  • organisations participating in the new hospital programme

It is important for you to be aware that significant organisational performance issues will mean you cannot be prioritised until these issues are addressed. An example of such an issue would be cyber performance.

Governance and assurance

If you receive funding from us, we expect you to follow the governance and assurance process detailed below.

Central and matched funded initiatives are required to have dedicated programme governance that reports into the executive board and sub-committee structures, ensuring board of trustee oversight, and ownership by a member of the executive (CEO, CFO, CIO, COO). Programme delivery will need to explicitly include clinical leadership of the programme (CCIO, CMO,CNIO).

Organisations are expected to use standard industry configurations and system blueprints to evidence use of replication to improve safety, pace, and cost.

Organisations will plan for the business transformation required to support their programme through deployment, stabilisation, and ongoing optimisation and this needs to be evident in each of the 3 business cases. A sustainable resourcing model and investment into clinical informatics need to be included as part of the management and financial case during FBC approval.

All contracts resulting from Digital Aspirant investment need to be shared by the organisation with NHSX and NHSD in a full, unredacted state. Organisations must ensure that there are no contractual or legal restrictions that would prevent such sharing.

Organisations will also ensure they keep up to date with all the latest cyber security updates and guidance, and ensure that infrastructure is kept up to date to take advantage of the latest solutions and avoid vulnerabilities.

Organisations, where possible, will seek guidance from other digitally mature trusts.

We expect that all organisations commit to communicating about the benefits the investment that they have received has enabled for frontline staff and their patients. They will agree to amplifying and cascading messages as well as showing support and advocacy. Each organisation will be expected to provide a named point of contact within their organisation to be part of the frontline digitisation communications network.

Organisations will be required to adhere to the programme assurance, reporting and governance requirements which will be published in due course. Organisations are expected to phase programmes to support funding gates, transparent monitoring, change control and shared assessment of the likelihood of success. This includes reporting benefits for the life of the investment.

Organisations will be required to extend an invite to frontline digitisation to relevant programme boards.

There is a clear obligation on the leadership of the recipient organisations to ensure these commitments and agreed milestones are met. Failure to do so will result in no further funding being given, and steps will be taken to recover the funding already provided.

Shared care records: Applicant information

Closing date

22 March 2022.

Total funding for 2021 to 2022 available to the system

Capital funding of £50 million.

Total available per applicant

Based on individual needs.

Eligible applicants

  • Individual ICSs
  • Collaboratives of ICSs

Capital funding will be allocated to a nominated NHS Trust or Trusts for and on behalf of their local ICS. All NHS organisations will be expected to buy or build technology which meets agreed standards, including new interoperability standards.

Context and purpose

Since the publication of the LTP, the Local Health and Care Records programme has been accelerated and prioritised by NHSX following the initial COVID-19 response. We are now committed to having a basic shared care record in place across all ICSs by September 2021. The long term aspirations of the LTP still stand, and the key role of digital and data in underpinning a successful ICS is clearly set out in the published NHSEI guidance.

We are aiming to spend up to £50 million for the shared care records programme to deliver the following objectives for financial year 2021 to 2022:

  • Better health: improve the quality and safety of care by providing authorised health and care professionals with safe and secure access to patient data, where, when and how they need it.
  • Better care: deliver the best possible experience of integrated care to people across the health and care system by enabling people to be active partners in their care plans and care records.
  • Lower cost: reduce costs by avoiding wastage such as unnecessary tests, attendances, admissions and visits caused by a failure to access information.

Anticipated benefits of the implementation of shared care records include:

  • improvements in quality of decision making through providing timely, accurate information about the person being cared for
  • improvement in the experience of care by people and their carers through a more integrated service across health and care providers
  • reduction in costs such as duplicated tests, attendances, conveyances, admissions, visits, length of stay
  • reduction in unproductive time of professionals and administrative staff in searching for, collecting, collating and communicating information

Scope of fund

What's in scope?

The shared care record programme builds on the earlier local health and care record programme and shifts the focus to the near term provision of basic shared care records in each ICS in England. This involves:

  • focusing on support for direct care
  • involving social care providers, where possible given variable levels of digitisation
  • accelerating implementation for September 2021

Through our work on baselining, we have identified areas which have already achieved high levels of connectivity and also those areas which require more focused support to meet that target.

Bids are invited from ICSs. The scope of a basic shared care record is focused on the connectivity of NHS Trusts and the general practice elements of primary care networks.

The level of provision to be achieved by September 2021 is set out in the shared care records Minimum Viable Solution (MVS) 1.0.

MVS 1.0 sets out that:

  • all NHS trusts and general practice elements of primary care networks within a ICS footprint should be connected to a basic shared care record
  • frontline professionals should have direct in-context access from their usual clinical systems with no separate login required
  • the solution should show conformance to the Core Information Standards

This is focused on connectivity of all NHS Trusts and the general practice parts of Primary Care Networks as a minimum. In some exceptional cases Trusts may be excluded where it is not good value for money, for example, investment in legacy systems that are soon to be replaced. Similarly some local systems will wish to go beyond the minimum and connect other partners. Where such proposals align with local priorities, they will not not be excluded from consideration.

The programme will run until March 2022, after which a further programme of work will be established to deliver the commitments set out in the LTP, through to March 2024.

What's not in scope?

Funding will not be awarded for systems where a basic level of shared care record is already in place to the levels set out in MVS 1.0. However, such initiatives may be considered in a second funding round, depending on the overall progress made nationally.

In the event of a national team gaining confidence about the delivery status of MVS 1.0, funding criteria will be adjusted mid-year. This will allow further progress and address the commitments for shared care records as set out in the NHS LTP. Commitments include opportunities to support interoperability, and population health management and planning using de-identified data alongside ensuring robust ICS-wide cyber security and information governance arrangements are in place.

Eligibility for participation

The shared care record investment fund is seeking proposals from individual ICSs, or multiple ICSs working together as collaboratives to deliver a shared care record capability.

Where we are making capital available, this will need to be taken by an appropriate nominated corporate body, such as an NHS trust or trusts, for and on behalf of the local ICSs. If successful, you will also be responsible for coordinating the consequent revenue implications of servicing that capital funding.

We expect that applicants are capable of matched funding. This is to ensure sustainability of future tech funding as well as local ownership and accountability for project success. Matched funding principles can be applied over the whole life of a programme. They can be tailored to suit your individual circumstances where possible, for example, funding may include a different mix of revenue and capital in different years.

To ensure no systems are left behind by the barrier of matched funding, consideration will be given based on individual circumstances. This is because we understand that some systems will be financially challenged but are still capable of delivering a highly successful programme.

If you wish to apply, we ask that you:

  • demonstrate that you need the funding to enable delivery and access to a shared care record system to the level defined as MVS 1.0 by September 2021
  • have not been in receipt of substantial previous national funding for similar initiatives
  • have a coherent delivery plan
  • have evidence of necessary capacity and capability to deliver
  • have evidence of strong system-wide leadership and support

Prioritisation of funding

Initially, funding will be allocated to ICSs that can demonstrate a need for funding to enable access to, or deliver a shared care record solution in line with MVS 1.0. Applicants can rest assured that application through the Unified Tech Fund will not slow down the release of funds for those ICSs bidding for funds to support their September MVS 1.0 goal.

Governance and assurance

Assurance will be proportionate to the delivery risk and the investment value. Delivery will be managed against an agreed plan. Assurance processes will include:

  • periodic reporting
  • active risk management
  • local systems will be required to commit to the realisation of benefits through deployment of shared care records. Those benefits, both cash releasing and non-cash releasing may be retained by local systems
  • assurance review before funding is released against delivery milestones
  • intervention when necessary and in some cases it may be necessary to stop investment until remedial action is taken and the chances of success are once more proved to be good

Cyber security infrastructure fund: Applicant information

Closing date

23 December 2021.

Total funding for 2021 to 2022 available to the system

Capital funding of up to £27 million.

Total available per applicant

As an individual organisation, your bid should not exceed £250,000 within the financial year. However NHSX may waive that limit if the cyber risk posed to the individual organisation or wider system is unacceptable and cannot otherwise be addressed.

Eligible applicants

  • Individual NHS trusts
  • Clinical commissioning groups (CCG)

Context and purpose

Over the next five years, the NHS will undergo a dramatic transformation in how it uses technology, leverages data analytics, and provides world-class patient care and preventative services. To realise the full potential of these changes, good cyber security is required. Cyber security is a pivotal enabler in everything the system does and delivers, protecting patient safety and maintaining public trust in increasingly digital services.

Up to £27 million capital will be available in 2021 to 2022 to help NHS trusts and CCGs reach compliance with the single cyber standard for the NHS, the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT).

Our fund aims to support levelling up within the system and address critical cyber infrastructure weakness. This includes weaknesses that prevent compliance with the DSPT standard and potential specific weaknesses identified through NHS Digital (NHSD) on-site cyber security assessments or other security reviews, such as back-up reviews and penetration tests.

A centralised approach will be taken where we can reduce procurement costs, there is a common need for a specific technology and where central investment is identified as the most efficient and effective way to address them.

Scope of fund

What's in scope?

Organisations will be able to bid for funding to address:

  • critical infrastructure weakness which introduces security risk. This can either be a digital equivalent to "backlog maintenance" such as outdated network switches, outdated virtual private network tech, protective domain name service capability or new firewalls to enable onboarding to NHSD’s secure boundary
  • specific weaknesses identified through an NHSD on-site cyber security assessment or other security reviews, such as backup reviews, active directory reviews or independently provided penetration tests within the past 12 months
  • weaknesses preventing compliance with the DSPT standard for 2020 to 2021 which, once addressed, will provide the mandatory evidence to demonstrate compliance with a DSPT assertion

Capital will be allocated directly to organisations and will be made available in quarter 2 and quarter 3.

What's not in scope?

The following funding requests are out of scope:

  • Funding requests that can be satisfied by pre-existing contracts, frameworks, future centrally-funded initiatives (such as privileged access management or security incident and event monitoring solutions or are contrary to prevailing cyber security best practice, such as virtual patching).
  • Routine IT upgrades, including desktop hardware for Windows 10 deployments or extended security update licenses.
  • Revenue costs associated with the capital asset. Implementation and training costs can be included in the capital submission. Applicants must confirm that they are able to self-fund standalone training, resource and licensing.

Eligibility for participation

You may only submit a bid if you are an NHS trust or a CCG. Your bids for capital must be supported by the NHSEI regional office and by the NHSD Data Security Centre Regional Security Lead.

Applications will be reviewed by NHSX, National Cyber Security Centre and NHSD.

Though matched funding is not required, your bid will still be considered if it includes matched funding. We also need you to provide assurance that you have the required revenue funding stream to deploy the capital.

If your bid is successful, we will require you to complete an annual assurance report to confirm that your spend on agreed items was successfully completed and which DSPT assertions you were able to remediate by the procurement. We may also ask you to provide evidence of this where necessary.

Additional support available

NHSEI Heads of Digital Transformation and the NHSD Data Security Centre Regional Security Leads are available in all NHSEI regions to support organisations in identifying and submitting bids for capital projects.

Prioritisation of funding

You will be treated as a priority if your bid is supported by a recent NHSDl provided Backup Review or an NHSD On-site Cyber Security Assessment carried out in 2021.

We expect that your bid will help you to meet or maintain compliance with at least one mandatory DSPT assertion in the 2021 to 2022 DSPT return. We also ask that you clearly demonstrate how the capital will remediate a vulnerability or assist in doing so.

Prioritisation of bids will include the criticality of NHS organisations in particular to the emergency care pathway and the cyber maturity of the organisation. Cyber maturity will be a prioritisation factor as the purpose of our fund is to help support large NHS organisations to reach a cyber baseline standard. That list is likely to include, but may not be limited to:

  • major trauma centres
  • ambulance trusts
  • identified areas of risk with organisation, such as DSPT returns, backup report, active directory reviews and on-site assessments

Digital productivity: Applicant information

Closing date

30 November 2021.

Total funding for 2021 to 2022 available to the system

Capital funding of £4 million.

Total available per applicant

For this fund, spending awards will be applicable from October 2021 and you may bid for up to £250,000 per organisation.

Eligible applicants

  • NHS organisations
  • Voluntary, community and social enterprise alliance
  • Social care organisations and local governments with direct linkage to NHS services
  • NHS England and NHS Improvement departments and regions
  • CCGs
  • ICSs
  • Government and NHS arms length bodies partners (such as Department for Health and Social Care, Health Education England, NHSD, Care Quality Commission, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence)

Context and purpose

The need to improve productivity is more important than ever as we move out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Significant productivity growth will be required for the foreseeable future in order to mitigate the productivity reduction caused by COVID-19 counter-measures.

Research by the University of York shows that organisations with greater levels of improved productivity have reduced employee sickness rates and absenteeism, error rates and administrative processing time.

An improvement in productivity level, will give more focus on clinical decision-making and will reduce variations in clinical practice, patient outcomes measures, operational and clinical time utilisation and financial efficiency.

With the extensive range of digital solutions available across healthcare, our programme aims to help organisations to improve productivity by adopting digital technology.

We will also support applicants in finding out where digital is being done well, signposting you to evidence based case studies and similar useful resources. Sharing learning promotes sustainability, collaboration and expertise, speeding up the use of productivity-improving digital technologies, in places where they have the biggest impact.

Scope of fund

What's in scope?

You will be able to bid for capital funding support to accelerate the adoption and utilisation of proven productivity-improving digital technologies such as:

  • real time location services including radio frequency identification devices
  • robotic process automation
  • virtual and augmented reality technologies
  • intelligent automation
  • value added labour saving digital capabilities across all systems

To avoid overwhelming individual organisations with too many priorities and support offers, many of the interventions in this programme will be coordinated at ICS level.

What's not in scope?

Please be aware that no funding will go directly to technology vendors.

If you are a private organisation or an organisation not registered or recognised from the eligible applicant list above, you are ineligible unless you can demonstrate otherwise.

The following will not be funded.

  • Basic IT infrastructure upgrades or other preliminary work necessary to the project.
  • Associated hardware, such as iPads.
  • Related software systems or functionality, such as human resource systems.
  • Costs not directly related to the implementation or development of new software systems, functionality or interoperability to improve its meaningful use.
  • Projects which do not impact upon the optimisation of the health and care workforce.
  • Projects which do not align with The Future of Healthcare: Our Vision for Digital Data and Technology in Health and Care.
  • Trivial purchases that are a follow-on from the initial project scope.

Eligibility for participation

We expect that applicants are capable of matched funding. This is to ensure sustainability of future tech funding as well as local ownership and accountability for project success. Matched funding principles are applied over the whole life of a programme. This can be tailored to suit your individual circumstances where possible, for example, funding may include a different mix of revenue and capital in different years.

To ensure no providers are left behind by the barrier of match funding, consideration will be given based on individual circumstances. This is because we understand that some providers can be financially challenged but are still capable of delivering a highly successful programme.

For you to have a successful bid, it is important to demonstrate digital leadership at board level, clinical support, financial self-sufficiency and a willingness to transform through digital technology.

We expect that providers will adhere to procurement regulations and compete fairly and transparently in the open market.

Your implementation plans would need to consider the cyber implication for any new development. In particular, this may include data protection risks and opportunities arising from technology. As a priority, you will also need to consider how personal and business data is collected, stored and transmitted, including appropriate controls to manage risk in line with General Data Protection Regulation. In addition, compliance with other technical requirements and relevant regulations and standards related to each technology is necessary.

If your bid is successful, we expect you to actively support the learning ecosystem, working collaboratively with the digital productivity programme and other providers to share lessons, capture learning in a structured manner. For example, this would include: blueprinting, being open and transparent about risks and opportunities, supporting proactive communications and celebrating impacts.

Principally as minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must:

  • be able to demonstrate productivity impact, effectiveness and sustainability of investment
  • have not been in receipt of previous national funding for similar initiatives
  • have a clear and coherent delivery plan for maximising the opportunities of the technologies
  • can demonstrate digital capability for such technologies
  • demonstrate awareness and compliance with technical requirements and safety element of the technology
  • demonstrate financial sustainability to continue the operations of the technology post financial year 2021.

Applicants are expected to ensure their proposals are supported by high quality quotes in preparation of the subsequent procurement exercise, if successful. If developing new functionality, organisations will consider the relevance of intellectual property licensing and how the wider NHS will benefit from the product, such as through ensuring NHS developed functionality is made open source.

Bids will be objectively assessed against vendor-neutral application criteria, based upon the value of the project, organisational capability and project readiness.

Prioritisation of funding

We will prioritise funding based on the criteria developed for the award.

Digital pharmacy, optometry, dental, ambulance and community (PODAC): Applicant information

Closing date

7 October 2021.

Total funding for 2021 to 2022 available to the system

Capital funding of £2.5 million and revenue funding of £500,000 for the ambulance sector. Capital funding of £2.5 million and revenue funding of £500,000 for the community sector.

Total available per applicant

Applicants may bid up to £500,000 capital and up to a maximum of £100,000 revenue per application.

Eligible applicants

  • NHSEI regions
  • CCGs
  • ICSs
  • Ambulance trusts
  • CCGs commissioned community health service providers
  • Community of interest company or social enterprise providing community care NHS services

Context and purpose

To have collaborative service transformation requires all parts of the NHS to have the appropriate systems and support they need in order to play their part. We appreciate that this is not currently the case. Whilst some sectors have implemented world leading systems and workflows, others remain largely paper based.

This digital variability presents a fundamental challenge to the viability of service transformation across systems. Currently, it is not possible for patients to have joined up care when a range of key sectors are digitally immature and therefore prevent interoperability.

For ambulance, community, dental, optometry and community pharmacy services, there have been elements of digital progress over the past 20 years. However, progress in all five of these areas has typically been slow and unsystematic. Too often, solutions have either not been provided at all or have lacked specificity by not meeting the basic requirements of these sectors.

Supporting all providers within the ambulance, community, dental, optometry and community pharmacy services to reach a baseline level of digital maturity is fundamental to enable changes in the way that care is delivered.

For this financial year we are focused on targeting support and investment to improve digital maturity of the ambulance and community sectors. This work will support the long term vision for these services, where staff and patients no longer experience a disparity in digital services between ambulance and community sectors in comparison to the acute sector.

Scope of fund

What's in scope?

For the community sector we will support projects that:

  • optimise and increase the take up of EPRs and scheduling technologies across community services
  • use technology to increase remote access to EPR and other relevant applications
  • increase usability of interfaces to support the electronic capture of clinical activity across community based systems including cloud-based EPR solutions
  • increase patient access to appointment and booking systems to allow self-management
  • develop or enhance interfaces for data exchange between community provider systems and local shared care record systems and other platforms

For the ambulance sector we will support projects that:

  • align, design and build on existing integrated ambulance data architecture, working with ICSs across their geographical footprint:
  • using a service oriented architecture which translates data and user functionality; or
  • defining interfaces for data exchange between the ambulance architecture and local shared care record systems and other platforms
  • integrate future capabilities and solutions, including on-board point of care diagnostics and monitoring tools, bookings and referrals with fleet and control room capabilities
  • support local ambulance trusts to improve and standardise infrastructure resilience, enabling robust cybersecurity, failover and demand surge management

What's not in scope?

We will not fund technology vendors directly.

Eligibility for participation

If you wish to apply, we ask that you:

  • have trust Chief Information Officer (CIO) endorsement
  • name a nominated organisation executive board member to act as the senior responsible owner
  • have a clear and coherent delivery plan for maximising the opportunities of the technologies within four weeks of a successful bid
  • demonstrate your bid supports the current and future efforts towards frontline digitisation, to enabling integrated care and system working
  • ensure it benefits the provision of community services and available to NHS commissioned providers of community services. This is for community sector bids only.

For bids submitted at CCG, ICS or regional levels, you need to ensure constituent ambulance and community organisations fully support the proposal.

Matched funding by the applicant organisation is not essential.

If your bid is successful, we expect you to contribute to communities of practice and share use case blueprints, lessons and benefits; and that funding is spent by March 2022.

Additional support available

NHSX ambulance and community senior programme leads are available to provide pre-submission advice and guidance. They can provide information on national policy initiatives, signpost to evidence and access to national networks and collaboratives. If you have any questions or would like to discuss the process further, please email digital.podac@nhsx.nhs.uk.

Prioritisation of funding

NHSX will prioritise bids that:

  • develop greater interoperability across the five PODAC sectors
  • increase communications and productivity enabling technology, across ambulance and community sectors
  • increase the use of referral and image transfer capabilities, to enable better access to clinical information

Diagnostics: Applicant information

Closing date

23 December 2021.

Total funding for 21 to 22 available to the system

Capital funding of £235 million.

Total available per applicant

Based on individual needs.

Eligible applicants

This fund is only open to imaging and pathology networks

Context and purpose

In paragraph 5.28 of the LTP a number of commitments have been outlined which relate to diagnostic services. In addition, the independent report, Diagnostics: Recovery and Renewal, reiterates the key role of imaging and pathology networks, outlining that “Improving connectivity and digitisation across all aspects of diagnostics should be prioritised to drive efficiency, deliver seamless care across traditional boundaries and facilitate remote reporting.”

Recent operational experiences throughout the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the additional service resilience afforded by diagnostic networks, digital interoperability and the importance of enabling remote working, including working from home. The UK’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy (2017) highlights that “the full digitisation of pathology opens up the opportunity to create artificial intelligence (AI) based algorithms that could provide insights not currently available through conventional methodology”. Diagnostic imaging is at the forefront of development of clinical AI tools, with several imaging AI apps undergoing stage 4 evaluation supported by the NHSX AI in Health & Care Award. To exploit the opportunities afforded by AI, the core digital infrastructure needs to be in place.

The aims of our 2021 to 2022 investment funds targeted at diagnostics are to provide a rapid acceleration in implementation of our key policy objectives. This will be achieved by enabling pathology and imaging networks to invest in the essential digital infrastructure to deliver against the LTP commitments and Richards’ Review recommendations and take advantage of AI technologies as they achieve regulatory approval and clinical validation.

A portfolio of initiatives is being established to improve and transform diagnostic services. These include, the planned formation of community diagnostic hubs, diagnostic service networks, imaging equipment capacity and replacement, diagnostic workforce expansion and increasing capacity through independent healthcare providers. To underpin these programmes, facilitate service redesign and transformation of diagnostic capability for producing sustainable services requires a digital technology platform capable of providing timely access to high quality standard data at the point of need.

Our programme will build on the COVID-19 laboratory information management systems (LIMS) enhancement initiative, which was launched in direct response to the 2020 pandemic. We provided £40 million in funding in 2020 to 2021 and £20 million has been allocated for 2021 to 2022 to ensure connectivity for orders and results across the networks. This will improve resilience, responsiveness and productivity in the management of COVID-19 testing and improve workflow management across both hot and cold sites.

Scope of fund

What's in scope?

Key objectives of the programme are:

  • to increase system capacity and resilience of diagnostic services through enhanced digital capability
  • to level up access to diagnostic services across the NHS through the development of digital histopathology and diagnostic imaging capability
  • to improve safety and experience for patients and NHS staff, by reducing manual processes and turnaround times and enabling flexible working

The areas which are in scope for the investment programme are:

  • imaging network infrastructure to enable image-sharing and shared reporting worklists across all constituent member organisations within imaging networks
  • infrastructure and equipment to enable home reporting of diagnostic imaging. Imaging networks will aim to provide this capability to all reporters such as Consultant Radiologists, Reporting Radiographers and specialist trainees in radiology
  • digital pathology hardware and software to enable full digitisation of histopathology services within Pathology Networks, and interoperability between Pathology Networks to enable digital image transfer for sub-specialist opinion, and second opinions
  • LIMS replacement: investment in enterprise-wide LIMS solutions at pathology network level to ensure full operational interoperability between laboratories within a pathology network and between pathology networks, seamless flow of patient results into the health and care record, and provision of capacity and demand load balancing capability to support operational service delivery

What's not in scope?

Submitted bids that are not part of a pathology or imaging network proposal will not be considered.

Funding is not available for departmental systems such as ophthalmology, dermatology application software, but infrastructure that may be shared across specialties will be considered.

Eligibility for participation

If you are applying from an imaging or pathology network we ask that you have full support from an NHS trust, ICS and regional leadership teams and alignment with priorities locally, regionally and nationally.

NHS trusts will be eligible to receive funding for proposals that deliver the core outcomes, and have been incorporated into the regional submissions.

Your investment initiatives will need to align with the Secretary of State’s Technology Vision with national interoperability standards designed to enable the effective sharing of data across care settings. This includes the use of compliance with national data sets, international image standards, open standards and application programming interfaces to enable sharing of elements of the care record.

Your investment initiatives will need to work towards the key interoperability priorities, for which nationally published specifications will be provided.

  • Sharing of structured data and schedules.
  • Sharing of structured diagnostics information.
  • Use of the NHS number at the point of care.
  • The use of a consistent set of terminology and diagnostic codes.

Funding is only available initially to be spent on items that can be classified as capital expenditure according to your local accounting rules. Funding awards can be spent on hardware, software, infrastructure, and costs associated with project management, implementation, and business change, to the extent that these costs can be capitalised.

If you are an NHS organisation who receives capital investment, you must own any assets procured with the funding and will be responsible for any consequential costs arising from their award and any ongoing costs arising from the initial investment. Such costs may include capital charges and depreciation. Funding awards cannot be used to cover such costs. Matched funding is not a requirement for this fund, however, submitted bids that contain matched funding will be considered.

Successful bids will align to a declared long term digital investment roadmap that will underpin the increasing maturity of a diagnostic network to deliver the Diagnostics: Recovery and Renewal review, LTP and, COVID-19 recovery objectives.

Agreement on funding will be determined through a collaboration of NHSEI national, NHSEI regional, ICS, diagnostic network and subject matter experts from professional bodies to ensure there is service alignment, likelihood of success is optimised and approaches are shared to reduce variability.

Additional support available

Market management and commercial services are available to support bidding teams to engage with suppliers to improve relationships, performance and authority obligations through a strategic relationship management approach. This will further an open competitive diagnostics market.

The clinical informatics and quality improvement to support benefits realisation, and optimisation.

Subject matter expert advice is also available on proposed solutions, including guidance from exemplars such as PathLake and the Northern Pathology Imaging Co-operative. There will also be mechanisms for you to capture and share learning, to accelerate safe and effective adoption and embedding of digital capability.

Written technical guidance, case studies and exemplar documents are available through the national imaging transformation programme site on NHS Futures.

Prioritisation of funding

Proposals that are compatible with the ongoing development of diagnostic services including imaging and pathology service networks.

Eligible projects must be deliverable within a year and organisational readiness, including network maturity will also drive prioritisation. Projects that are over a longer time period such as 3 years, will be considered but applicants must be aware that funding for years 2 and 3 is not guaranteed.

Bids will look to deliver initiatives which directly support the response and recovery requirements from the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Priority will be given to submissions that deliver the core outcomes of interoperability and integration. To deliver workload balancing and data accessibility over the widest areas while offering value through reduction in cost per tests or examinations and potentially deliver increased efficiency and patient safety.

For imaging networks, the areas of focus for 2021 to 2022 will be:

  • establishing real-time digital image sharing capability across an imaging network to achieve shared reporting worklists
  • enabling home reporting capability for all digital radiology reporters

For pathology networks, the areas of focus for 2021 to 2022 will be:

  • digitising histopathology with slide scanning and clinical application software, plus intra network and network to network interoperability
  • investment in enterprise-wide LIMS solutions to enable end-to-end interoperability, automation and pathology service capacity and demand load-balancing

Digital maternity: Applicant information

Please note that this fund will not be taking applications until 18 October 2021. However, you are able to register your interest on our application form.

Total funding for 2021 to 2022 available to the system

Combined capital and revenue funding of £50 million.

Total available per applicant

This is expected to be confirmed later in the year.

Eligible applicants

This is expected to be confirmed later in the year.

Context and purpose

At this time we are performing a reconciliation, the scope of this fund will be released later this year.

NHSEI and NHSX are co-leading the digital child health and maternity (DCH&M) programme to improve outcomes for women and their children whilst also improving safety of clinical care.

This will be achieved by providing women and their families with access to, and interaction with their own clinical data. This will support them to be able to fully participate in a process of shared decision making regarding their healthcare.

The overall experience will also be improved for both families and professionals by facilitating access to individual healthcare data, both for ongoing care and also to inform support around health vulnerability and safeguarding issues.

The programme will deliver the following objectives.

  • A digital maternity healthcare record accessible by women, authorized healthcare professionals and others granted permission by the woman.
  • Signposted, curated healthcare information.
  • An interoperable suite of supplier solutions capable of sharing a core dataset data across all service providers.

The National Maternity Review, Better Births, emphasised the importance of data sharing to ensure the whole system delivers coordinated care from different providers such as midwives, general practitioners (GP) and obstetricians operating in different locations and deploying different electronic records solutions.

The DCH&M programme aims to support pregnant women in England to access their personal Women’s Digital Care Records (WDCRs) by the accelerated timeline of March 2023, ahead of the NHS LTP commitment of March 2024.

We are aware that the digital maturity of maternity systems nationally is variable. However, we will launch a digital maturity assessment to update previous data, mapping the current landscape to understand the scale of change required to meet the intended outcomes. We anticipate the information from this exercise will be available in September 2021 and will be used to define our approach to this fund.

In principle, we anticipate this funding will include capital funding to support licensing and revenue to support implementation & resources, alpha and private beta testing of specifications for running of pilots.

To support our objectives we anticipate the following.

  • All maternity information EPR Systems must be compliant with the latest requirements for maternity shared records to support interoperability and ensure record sharing is enabled without double entry.
  • Trusts will also be encouraged to meet the basic standards through the Maternity Incentive Scheme and Clinical Negligence Scheme for trusts regulation.
  • Trusts will be supported to assume full compliance in collaboration with frontline digitisation by supporting business change, assessing digital maturity and adherence at a local level.
  • A reference technical architecture is being established to underpin the digital maternity record nationally.
  • NHSX will be leveraging large scale regional footprints including going live with maternity as a use case in a number of local shared care record localities.

Scope of fund

What's in scope?

We are currently defining the scope of the funding.

Examples of possible investment categories may include:

  • the procurement of compliant maternity systems to support care across the maternity journey
  • purchasing of licenses
  • reduction of the clinical burden, double entry, enabling interoperability throughout your local maternity system
  • personal health record or WDCR solutions to enable women to feed into their own records and access when it suits their needs
  • allowing women access to her blood tests, scan results & personalised care and support plan
  • hardware, such as laptops for community midwives and other staff
  • other issues that may be highlighted in the maturity baselining

What's not in scope?

This information will be updated later this year, we will let you know when this has been confirmed.

Eligibility for participation

Where we are making capital available, you will need to nominate a trust for and on behalf of the local system and they would be responsible for ongoing cost of capital charge.

Prioritisation of funding

Funding will likely be prioritised to those Local Maternity Systems (LMS) or ICSs that can demonstrate a need for funding to enable access to, or delivery of WCDRs and interoperable maternity information systems. Bids will be scored based on leadership, strategic alignment, impact and approach.

Procurement

You are required to ensure that any technology for maternity services including apps or remote monitoring meets the appropriate standards. For example, any remote monitoring or mum and baby apps will need to adhere to standards such as the Digital Technology Assessment Criteria and that they are Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority approved, if they are medical devices. If you will be saving data then please adhere to the latest requirements for maternity shared records.

Digital child health: Applicant information

Please note that this fund will not be taking applications until 18 October 2021. However, you are able to register your interest on our application form.

Total funding for 2021 to 2022 available to the system:

This is expected to be confirmed later in the year.

Total available per applicant

This is expected to be confirmed later in the year.

Eligible applicants

This is expected to be confirmed later in the year.

Context and purpose

Earlier in 2021, Andrea Leadsom delivered a review called The Best Start for Life: A Vision for the 1,001 Critical Days, also known as the Early Years Healthy Development Review Report. At this time we are performing a reconciliation between the review and the scope of this fund hence why we'll be providing an update later this year to confirm the scope and value. We wanted to publish this now for planning purposes and look forward to expressions of interest.

The shared ambition of NHSEI and the digital child health programme is to improve outcomes for children by empowering them and their families whilst improving safety of clinical care. We will achieve this by providing young people and their carers with access to, and interaction with, their own clinical data. This will be presented together with signposted, curated, supporting information to allow their full participation in a process of shared decision making regarding their healthcare. The overall experience will also be improved for both families and professionals by facilitating access to the child's data for ongoing care and to inform support around health vulnerability and safeguarding issues.

Policy drivers for this are both the Digital Personal Child Health Records (DPCHRs) set out in the LTP and the Andrea Leadsom Early Years Review. These have set out the needs for digital access to child health data and the importance of this being shareable across all families and associated health professionals.

The DCH&M Programme is a first of type. To deliver the desired objectives, interoperability must be delivered between all records held by clinicians, other social care professionals and by the young person and their family. It must be accessible across multiple settings such as GP, hospital, community services and shared care records. Additionally, information will be required to flow for secondary uses. All of the above will be released across an England-wide footprint.

The above requires a whole-system approach to data-sharing and interoperability to support coordinated care and from providers across all health and social care sectors such as Health Visitors, GPs, and Paediatricians. These professionals are located within the different settings such as health visiting clinics, GP surgeries, community paediatric services and hospitals which all form part of the local ICS system.

Operationalising this ambition requires two key steps:

  1. Delivering DPCHRs for all newborns.
  2. The adoption of interoperability standards by EPR suppliers including those serving CHISs, health visiting and maternity systems, GP systems, inpatient EPRs and shared care record services.

This programme will launch a digital maturity assessment, to update previous data mapping of the current landscape and understand the scale of change required to meet the intended outcomes. We anticipate the information from this exercise will be available in September 2021. At that time, we will also refresh this fund to provide you with more detailed information regarding our scope and funding.

To support these objectives we anticipate working towards the following:

  • Encouraging ICSs to support digital transformation and business change of children's services to enable their clinical systems to integrate with future DPCHRs.
  • All Health Visiting, Child Health Information System (CHIS) & Inpatient paediatric services, GP, EPR’s & shared care record services to be compliant with the latest requirements for childrens shared records DCB3009.
  • A reference technical architecture is being established to underpin the DPCHRs nationally and could provide a clinical view.
  • NHSX will be leveraging large scale regional footprints including going live with child health as a use case in local shared care record localities.

Scope of fund

What's in scope?

This information will be updated later this year, we will let you know when this has been confirmed.

We will likely be aiming this fund at both ICSs and individual providers and would encourage collaborative procurements.

What's not in scope?

Services unable to deliver by March 2023 will not be eligible for this funding.

Eligibility for participation

A detailed eligibility criteria will be available for you later this year.

Prioritisation of funding

Your bid is likely to be funded if you meet the Children and Young People transformation objective: using digital, which as a minimum includes compliance with DCB3009. ICSs, trusts or community services that can demonstrate a need for funding to enable access to, or delivery of future DPCHR and interoperable systems within 1 year.

History

14 September 2021: Summary of funds table added to executive summary