NHS considers minimum tech spend guidelines for trusts

National bodies will engage with local providers to discuss possible investment thresholds

Credit: Pixabay/Kevin Schneider

NHS England is considering implementing minimum technology spending thresholds to ensure that trusts and other local services providers are achieving the desired level of digital transformation.

The national body will work with NHSX to engage with local health-service organisations in a bid to “determine if there is a minimum and optimal indicative benchmark level of technology revenue spend”. 

This engagement work will examine what an appropriate minimum spend figure might be and how trusts should be best supported to “move towards it over time”.

Any spending threshold implemented will be “linked to digital maturity standards that are under development”.

It will apply only to operational spending, and not capital outlay on hardware or software.

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Although those investments may be also be guided centrally, with national health service bodies working to determine which “high-impact productivity-enhancing solutions which all relevant NHS organisations should be using”.

“Where appropriate, NHSX will negotiate licence agreements [for these solutions] to drive best value for the NHS, which NHS organisations may then fund themselves,” the NHS said. “NHSX will also put in place deployment teams to help organisations effectively implement these applications.”

These proposals were contained in the newly published NHS Operational Planning and Contracting Guidance for the 2020/21 financial year.

Elsewhere, the document lays out the health service’s ambition to use technology to eliminate “a third of face-to-face outpatient attendances” by the 2023/24 year. It expects “tangible progress to be made” towards this goal during 2020/21.

The guidance said: “The fundamental redesign of the outpatient model of care is a key goal of the NHS Long Term Plan so that we improve patient convenience and access to services, avoid unnecessary travel to appointments, enable more productive use of clinicians’ time and more efficient use of outpatient clinics. Many face-to-face outpatient appointments could be dealt with through the use of technology or are not clinically necessary.”

Funding for digitisation programmes will be provided through the NHS’s new ‘digital aspirant’ programme – which will seek to support hospitals that, while yet to make headway significant headway, have big ambitions to make better use of technology. This funding “will not be split equally across organisations”, the report said.


Sam Trendall

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