NHS England has launched a £100 million fund for trusts to buy innovative mobile and digital technologies to support nurses, midwives and care staff with improving patient care.
The ‘Nursing Technology Fund’ aims to help NHS staff work more flexibly and effectively by reducing the amount of paperwork they are required to carry out.
NHS England said it is trying to create an “information revolution” within the National Health Service and an essential part of this is ensuring that staff have the right tools to do their job properly.
“Nurses and midwives chose their profession because they wanted to spend time caring for patients, not filling out paperwork. New technology can make that happen. It’s better for patients too, who will get swifter information, safer care and more face-to-face time with NHS staff,” said health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The fund aims to mostly support projects that have a particular focus on mobile and digital technologies which help improve communication and allow staff to do their jobs more easily.
NHS trusts providing hospital, community, mental health and ambulance services can all apply for funding. Applicants must demonstrate that funding will be used to buy technology that nursing staff and midwives will see the practical benefit of using and ultimately that will benefit patient care.
Some £30 million of the fund will be available for projects that can be delivered in 2013/14 and the remaining £70 million for projects delivered in 2014/15.
The deadline for first round applications is 15 January 2014 and funding decisions will be announced in February.
“Demands on the NHS have changed dramatically over the years and it is vital that as a health service we change and modernise so our patients get the best possible care,” said Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England.
“Technology is a tool that if embraced and used in the right way, allows healthcare professionals to work differently and more effectively so they can focus on what they do best – providing compassionate, high quality care for patients.
“We can do things today that simply wouldn’t have been possible as little as 20 years ago. Digital pens can reduce the burden of paperwork and mobile technology such as tablets or notebooks can provide access to up to date information to enable community healthcare staff to deliver safe, effective care and spend more time with patients with all the relevant information to hand. Technology can make a real difference to front-line patient care.”
It was revealed earlier this year that Hunt wants a paperless NHS by 2018, which he hopes will save the government £4.4 billion a year.
By March 2015 everyone in the UK should be able to get online access to their health records held by their GP, according to Hunt, and GPs should be able to refer patients via email, instead of having to send a letter.
Hunt also wants there to be a clear plan in place to enable secure linking of these electronic health and care records wherever they are held.