A Department of Health bid to the government spending review has said the NHS will need up to £5.6bn to deliver its technology plans, HSJhas learned.

  • DH spending review indicates “£3.3bn to £5.6bn” is needed for NHS technology projects
  • First time detail of critical DH spending review bids have been made public
  • Document details nine priority areas of NHS technology and the funding required

The bid was submitted in September. Until now the DH’s demands have not been made public.

Negotiations are still ongoing ahead of the 25 November review announcement, which is expected to set departmental spending plans until 2019-20, and the current proposals for NHS IT spending are not known.

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The Department of Health wants funding for nine technology ‘domains’

Details of the bid were outlined in a paper by DH director of informatics delivery management Tim Donohoe, which was discussed at the National Information Board’s October board meeting.    

The paper said: “On September 4 the DH submitted a [spending review] bid for technology, data and digital with an estimated range of costs of £3.3bn to £5.6bn, and signalled to [the Treasury] that more work was needed to refine the costs.”

The paper said it was “draft analysis subject to internal review and validation by NHS stakeholders”.

The DH had spent “the last three months… identifying priority technology programmes and digging into their estimated costs and benefits” as part of work carried out with consultants Deloitte and McKinsey, the paper said.

HSJ reported in June that work by McKinsey for NHS England had calculated that plans to roll out the use of digital technology in the health service could result in efficiency savings of £10bn by 2020. NHS England has said the full report on this work will be published this month.  

Mr Donohoe’s report, written with NHS England director of strategic systems and technology Beverley Bryant, sets out nine “domains” in which it needs to find funding, with a breakdown of requirements in these areas.

The biggest domain is the “paper free healthcare and…transactions”, which includes “electronic health records, integration and interoperability, e-medicine supply chain and digital diagnostics”. It estimates these projects will require just over £3bn.

Other significant areas of proposed spend include:

  • transforming general practice IT – £789m;
  • improvements to the underlying NHS infrastructure, including the NHS Spine and email systems – £761m; and
  • data for outcomes and research – £747m.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said at the national body’s annual general meeting last month that the NHS needed the spending review to provide “frontloaded investment in service transformation”, including for technology.

The government has already committed to increasing NHS spending by £8bn in real terms by 2020, but has not said how this will be phased.

A DH spokesman said: “The spending review process is ongoing and we cannot comment further at this time.”

Updated 3 November 9.45am to include DH spokesman’s comment

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