Press reports: Treasury finally doles out long-promised NHS IT cash

HSJ news site reports grudging release of money in way that gives little grounds for confidence in a digital NHS by 2023

Posted 12 April 2017 by Gary Flood

The Treasury has finally sent  its promised £160m to help 16 ‘digital exemplar’ IT Trusts pioneer better use of IT – but it’s still not clear when the CIOs can actually access the money.

In an exclusive it broke yesterday, NHS news site HSJ (Health Service Journal) says the full set of 16 acute so-say ‘global digital exemplar‘ NHS organisations have been sent a letter by NHS Digital saying central government has approved their exemplar funding – but that the letter also says “obstacles and conditions” remain before this will be released.

“While the letter was welcomed, several senior figures involved in the programme told HSJ they would continue to be wary until the funding arrived,” it notes.

HSJ has previously reported NHS IT sector unease about the slow progress of the funding getting accessed, and the precedent that no less than four previous digital health funds had been ‘raided’ by administrators to plug funding gaps elsewhere in the service.

These fears have been stoked by the fact that the programme was announced in August 2016, Trusts involved were reassured they’d get the money in November – but nothing’s actually landed in their banks yet.

An NHS England spokesman is quoted in the story as saying that the average of £10m per Trust had indeed been received and claimed it would start being released in the “first half” of the 2017-18 financial year.

The site says that one Trust fears that as it is “still in the planning phase when we expected to be in the implementation phase”, if the money isn’t received in the next few months “we will have to start reprofiling”.

However, HSJ‘s reporter Ben Heather also spoke to another source at a different exemplar trust who said they were “confident funding would be received by the end of this month”.