Over a third of the flagship £100m nursing technology fund launched by the prime minister has been held back, with the Department of Health declining to confirm a new date for its release.
A prospectus for the second tranche of nursing technology funding, published yesterday, revealed only £35m was being released instead of the £70m NHS England originally pledged would be available in this round.
The first tranche saw £30m allocated from the fund, meaning just £65m of the promised £100m has been made available to date.
The DH denied the funding had been cut, but said decisions about the next phase of the fund would not be made until “lessons have been learned from this initial investment”.
A DH spokeswoman told HSJ: “The phased rollout of the nursing technology fund has already seen £65m invested in technology to improve care and free up more time for patients.
“Decisions about the third phase of the rollout will be made once lessons have been learned from this initial investment, allowing the fund to build on other improvements in technology that the NHS is delivering.”
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The £30m allocated in the first round of funding, in March, was used to purchase technology such as digital pens, tablets and clinical software.
NHS England, which has been overseeing allocation of the fund, told HSJ last December the second tranche would be worth £70m. A third tranche has not been mooted until today. NHS England said the discrepancy was a matter for the DH.
The NHS England prospectus says: “We are delighted to announce further funding for the second round – £35m of investment to enhance the ability of the nursing and midwifery professions to harness the use of technology for the benefits of patients.”
A statement on the NHS England website said the second round of capital funding was worth £35m and would be available to be spent across 2014-15 and 2015-16. Bids must be submitted by 2 December.
The fund was originally launched by prime minister David Cameron in October 2012. Seventy-five trusts received funding from the first tranche.