A £500m technology fund set up by NHS England to help hospitals move away from paper based systems appears to have been slashed by £60m, official documents suggest.

The reduction was revealed in a bulletin circulated to clinical commissioning groups by NHS England that said the body had allocated £200m of the £260m originally earmarked for its first funding round.

It still plans to distribute £240m of second round funding, details of which are to be announced within weeks.

“In July 2013 NHS England launched the Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards technology fund [and] over £200m of capital investment was awarded to organisations,” the bulletin said.

“A further £240m for the second tranche of the technology fund – renamed the Integrated Digital Care Fund – was announced in September 2013.

“The prospectus and application window for this will be launched in the coming weeks.”

The Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards fund was worth £260m when it was first announced in May last year.

HSJ understands that efforts to distribute the funding were hampered by a tight application timetable and the tough value for money test that project applications must pass.

NHS England said it was unable to comment on the discrepancy.

The technology fund aims to help NHS providers move away from paper based systems for patient notes and prescriptions toward integrated electronic care records, as well as the development of electronic prescribing and referral systems.

It aims to stop patients having to repeat medical histories in the same hospital because of difficulties accessing records.

Electronic prescribing can cut prescription errors by up to 50 per cent, according to NHS England.